If the past year has taught us anything, it is to be flexible in business operations and planning. From shutdowns and false starts, it’s been one wild ride for everyone, but with the vaccine roll-out beginning, businesses are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Short-term, your business should be making flexible plans for reopening.

Whether that’s re-establishing in-person office business programs, drafting plans for limited capacity, or remaining remote, your goal should be one that can adapt to rapidly changing circumstances until such a time as society and business can function normally.

Create a plan that addresses the “how” you plan to reopen, establish HR procedures and draft contingency plans, and find creative solutions to keep reopening expenses low.

Starting The Economic Engines Back Up After The COVID Shutdown

One of the priorities of federal, state, and local governments should be the public health mitigation efforts as things begin to ease. At the local level, the pandemic has severely impacted the government’s revenue streams, placing a strain on their ability to assist local businesses.

As public health improves, so does the economic activity that is the primary revenue source’s economic recovery, so getting public health under control must be the first step toward reopening.

Without concrete, clear public policies in place, the hiccups experienced over the past year will continue. Those false-starts can have a lasting impact on a business and its ability to maintain and expand its client base.

To protect your interests, your business must have clear plans and protocols in place, be able to pivot on a dime and iterate your short-to-long-term strategies.

Management Pre-Opening Checklist 

If you’re planning on resuming business operations in the “next normal,” or what the immediate future holds, there must be a detailed reopening plan within your business organization. From an HR perspective, establishing a check-list of procedures and contingency plans for all employees is a must.

To resume in-person business and office interactions, you need to have a testing plan in place, daily temperature, symptom check-ins, and a safety program in place.

The CDC recommends three points of focus in a business reopening plan:

  1. Develop your plan
  2. Implement your plan
  3. Maintain and revise your plan

Keep in mind it’s recommended that a phased-approach to reopening is ideal, which allows you to smooth out any rough edges and loopholes in your office plan but also allows you the opportunity to minimize possible risks to exposure.

  • Create safety protocols that include a masking procedure for in-person office activities. As most indoor activities increase exposure, having a mask mandate for the office is crucial. Be sure to be compliant with medical or religious objections, and provide additional resources to accommodate.
  • Improve the air-flow of the office with increased HEPA filters.
  • Have established cohort teams of a limited size that is in-person on days different than other groups. That way, if there is an outbreak, you limit the potential exposure to a smaller number of persons in the office.
  • Establish additional office protocols such as maintaining proper distance between employees and workstations. How you reorganize your office space may force you to alternate your staffing, and having a plan on how you rotate office staff is essential.
  • Have a plan in place for immediate cleaning and sanitization procedures at the ready. There is a growing industry of third-party companies specializing in sanitizing work-stations, and you should have a list of providers that you may contact on short notice.

Additionally, establishing a checklist for business operations is just as important. If you have merchandise or equipment that may have sat idle for any duration of time, you must phase their restart to prevent any damage the layoff may have done.

  • Some common issues to consider when restarting your business operations are:
  • How long has the machinery been inactive?
  • Was shutdown procedures followed, or was machinery shut-off incorrectly, which may cause an issue at restarting?
  • Are there trained employees on how to restart and operate those machines returning to in-person work or staying remote? If so, you may need to have them train others on proper restarting and maintenance procedures.
  • HVAC systems that have been shut down for a while may need a deep cleaning and maintenance check for performance. Additionally, upgrading your air-filtration systems with HEPA type air filters are shown to help mitigate COVID spread.

Keep Your Expenses Low When Restarting

Assess your business’s immediate needs and revenue streams to determine the priority of how you focus your reopening strategy. For example, if you are running a restaurant, creating a safe dining experience for different times of the year is one plan and possibly shifting to more delivery options is a good pivot.

Another consideration is that with your reopening plan, how you utilize your workforce, and whether there will be necessary layoffs can save a ton in resources.

If your business model is in research, consider leasing equipment rather than purchasing, which may lower your expenditures in the restart. There are excellent options for leasing equipment regardless of industry, such as Excedr scientific equipment leasing.

There are many benefits of leasing versus purchasing lab equipment because, in the event of another shutdown, maintenance and upkeep are not your business’s responsibility. Instead, it falls to the lessor, which can save you money if there are extended shutdowns again.

Reopening stock photo by Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock