12 tips for safely reopening your business

Posted 06/05/20 Team Vaco

As states begin lifting their stay-at-home orders, we thought now was the perfect time to share a few strategies for keeping your employees and customers safe in our new normal. We understand that return-to-work requirements may vary depending on your industry and work environment, so throughout this post, we’ll share links to expert resources to help you shape a reopening strategy that’s right for your business. 

Now, let’s get to work!

Create a wellness program to monitor health

Remember when your wellness program was all about getting active, eating right, and being mindful? That’s still important, but it’s time to up your #WFH wellness game while simultaneously making sure that those heading back to the office feel confident. 

Here are a few best practices for you to consider as you develop a strong return-to-work wellness program.

  • Offer personal protective equipment (PPE) or face coverings for anyone entering your building. Proper PPE has played an important role in protecting essential workers and limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus. In certain industries, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires the use of standardized PPE. If your industry isn’t one of them, consider providing cloth face coverings for your employees to wear in the workplace.
  • Conduct daily wellness checks. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers can conduct symptom surveys or ask employees to complete a self-survey. 
  • Temperature checks to enter a workplace. Thermal scanning and temperature screening are recommended by the CDC to prevent and reduce transmission among employees. If you don’t have the resources to implement temperature scanning or wellness checks, outsourcing your return-to-work solutions may be the answer.

Develop a set of “No Personal Contact Rules”

Eliminate handshakes and hugging and instead, embrace the elbow-bump (if you really must) or other non-contact forms of greeting. Ask yourself where your employees are most likely to come into contact with one another and decide whether or not that contact is necessary. Be sure to post your no-contact rules to make sure everyone’s on the same page!

Limit shared office supplies

Back in precedented times, sharing was caring. In our unprecedented world, show you care by limiting or eliminating item sharing. Whenever possible, assign supplies and equipment like pens, pencils, staplers, and computers to individuals.

Require equipment cleaning

We don’t expect that you’ll invest in a copy machine and printer for every office. You should, however, make sure that all common-use equipment and high-touch surfaces — like copiers, printers, remotes, doorknobs, and conference tables — are cleaned with disinfectant before and after each use. 

Make good hygiene easy

Give your employees, customers, and visitors what they need to clean their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes. 

  • Provide tissues and no-touch trash cans.
  • Provide soap everywhere there’s water. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol. 
  • Place touchless hand sanitizer stations in multiple locations to encourage hand hygiene. Or, provide each employee with a personal bottle of hand sanitizer. 
  • Place posters that encourage social distancing, face coverings, good hygiene, and proper handwashing where they are likely to be seen.
  • Direct employees to visit CDC’s coughing and sneezing etiquette and clean hands webpage for more information.

Rethink that open floor plan

Social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC require at least six feet of space between individuals whenever possible. This may mean installing physical barriers in your office and changing your layout to create more space between employees. You may also want to consider transforming communal spaces into socially distant workstations — this will also have the added benefit of minimizing socializing while maximizing safe work areas. 

Adjust your breakroom (and your policies)

Your workers will still need a safe space to take a break, legally and mentally. Set your break room up to safely accommodate a limited number of employees. And be sure to post reminders about maximum occupancy, social distancing, face coverings, and personal hygiene.

Limit meeting and gathering sizes

Whenever possible, eliminate “closed-room” meetings. If you really must have a private meeting, consider hosting the meeting virtually to eliminate direct exposure. If face-to-face meetings are vital to your business operations, wear masks and put time limits on all face-to-face meetings. 

Be sure to post the number of people each meeting space can accommodate safely and don’t forget to update your room booking software! 

Improve ventilation

Open the windows and let the sunshine in! Or, at the very least, use your building’s ventilation system to improve ventilation rates. Here are recommendations from the CDC and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) about how to use your HVAC system to maintain a healthy work environment.

  • Increase ventilation rates
  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and provide acceptable indoor air quality
  • Increase outdoor air ventilation
  • Disable demand-controlled ventilation
  • Check filters and increase central air filtration to the possible level
  • Keep systems running longer hours, 24/7 if possible, to promote air exchange

Bust the 9-5 mentality

Everyone wants to get back to the office, but to make sure your return goes smoothly, it may be time to rethink the traditional workweek. 

First, take a look at your current work-from-home solutions and ask yourself what parts of your business can remain remote. Once you’ve done that, consider staggering workdays into shifts where employees come at different times based on team, function, or availability. Or, survey your employees to see if they’d consider working weekends in exchange for days off during the week. (This might be a great option for working parents!) 

Go ahead, get creative! 

Explore the benefits of remote interim staffing

Working remotely remains the best way to minimize exposure and help pave the way for a safe return to the workplace. As we gain a clearer understanding of COVID-19 and its impact on society and the economy, what you need today may not be what you need tomorrow. Which is why remote interim staffing could be a great option for many businesses.

Business leaders are responding differently to the challenges brought on by COVID-19, as you look for and find creative solutions to these new challenges, scalable interim staffing solutions can help you augment existing teams or backfill temporary gaps quickly and effectively. 

Communicate with your customers and your employees

Once you have your health and safety plans in place and you’re ready to return-to-work, create a clear communication strategy to make sure that your employees, visitors, and customers understand what your company is doing and what your expectations are of them.

As you reopen, broadcast your safety protocols over every channel you possibly can! Then, be prepared to welcome feedback, listen, adjust, adapt, and communicate updates and policy changes as needed. Interested in learning more about safely reopening your business? We’d like to invite you to watch our return-to-work webinar on-demand. In this 45-minute session, we discuss strategies for bringing businesses and communities back stronger than ever. 

Be well, stay safe.