Whether we see a second wave or not, the Covid-19 pandemic is likely to influence the way we work well into the future. Some regions have already halted reopening plans as cases began to rise again. If your business is reopening, here are a few things you can do to prepare for a potential second wave in your area.
Establish safety measures
As states reopen, local governments are issuing safety guidelines businesses should follow to keep employees and customers safe. You may be required to provide personal protective equipment for employees returning to the office, keep up a rigorous cleaning schedule, or to make adjustments to workspaces to provide more barriers and space between workers. Make sure your operations are in line with recommendations. If possible, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be even more cautious than required. That may mean more frequent cleaning or allowing employees to continue working from home if they wish. Even if infections are dropping in your state, it’s important to maintain strict safety measures rather than relaxing standards as perceived risk declines.
Use this return to work checklist as a guide to safe reopening practices.
Stock up on essential supplies
Earlier in the pandemic, essential items like personal protective equipment, paper goods, or cleaning supplies may have been in short supply. If you’re finding it easier to source these supplies now, consider keeping a reasonable stockpile in case a second wave of infections disrupt your supply.
Shift to new ways of doing business
Many companies were forced to move their work entirely online during the pandemic to keep afloat. Now is a good time to take stock of how this period of remote work affected your work and make any adjustments necessary to help employees be most effective from home. This may be a good time to purchase new software, supply employees with better equipment, or to work out issues with communication within teams. If this period of remote work went smoothly, you may consider a semi-permanent shift to remote services until the virus is controlled. Some businesses have shifted in-person customer service workers to call center work. If you find that demand for in-person service has dropped, look for ways to take more of your business online and train employees accordingly. Retail business may continue to offer curbside pickup even after in-store shopping is allowed and restaurants or event businesses that have pivoted to supplying bulk groceries or other goods may find that continuing to offer these goods could help make up for lost profits even after normal business resumes.
If someone in your office got sick during the first wave of Covid-19, you may have had to scramble to make sure their work was covered while they recuperated. Now is a good time to cross-train employees for essential jobs that can’t be put off for a few weeks while an employee is sick. Make sure another employee is trained to cover each essential role and set up with all the access they need to take over on short notice. If some employees have struggled to get accustomed to remote working tools like video conferencing programs, you now have the opportunity to provide more training to make remote work easier in the future.
Make good financial decisions
If your business struggled to stay afloat during a lockdown order, take this time to reassess your financials to see where you can cut back without letting employees go. If your business is experiencing less demand, you may need to reconsider your staffing requirements, only rehiring essential staff and allowing laid off employees to continue to collect unemployment benefits until you have enough business to require full staffing again. If you’ve been fortunate enough to weather the pandemic with little or no financial loss, make sure you have funds set aside in case a second wave has a more severe impact on your business. And if you can afford to give back, consider where it might make sense to do more to support your employees and your community. Could you provide medical benefits to more of your employees? Could you donate to non-profit organizations providing meals or housing to people who have lost their jobs?
In this time of uncertainty, it’s hard to know what new challenges we may face at work and at home. But by learning from experience and protecting what matters, we can be better prepared for the future.
For more guidance, watch the replay of our recent webinar Preparing for the Rebound: Business strategies for working today and in the future.