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Personal Leadership Development

Ready to reopen your business? 6 things to consider

Keeping employees and customers safe is priority one as we start to get back to business as usual. Consider these reopening tips.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many businesses shifted to remote operations and left the physical workplace behind. Others limited operations but stayed open to in-person business in some form. 

As more state and local restrictions are lifted and the number of people vaccinated is on the rise, you may be considering a return to the workplace or expanded hours. How do you keep your employees and your customers safe? Consult with the appropriate professionals, state and local guidelines and consider these tips, informed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As you reopen your business, it’s a good time to review your business plan. Chase for Business can help business owners plan for success, whatever the circumstances.

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1.   Scheduling

If your business is open to the public, you could consider changing your hours to support a staggered schedule. For restaurants and retail stores, consider creating a buddy system for employees to swap shifts if they need to care for children or sick family members.

For instance, instead of having everyone come in from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., some employees could work on-site for half their shift, such as 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and others could work on-site from 1 p.m.  to 4 p.m., while continuing to work from home the rest  of the time. This may make it easier for you to stay staffed, while keeping everyone appropriately distanced.

Starting with abbreviated hours is another reopening option businesses are experimenting with. Many have even considered making the return to the workplace optional.

Before taking any of these steps, make sure to consult with the CDC guidelines and appropriate professionals, including local public health professionals.

2.   Floor plan

While most state and local guidelines allow for increased capacity in workplaces, the pandemic has changed many business owners’ perspectives who are looking at business floor plans and layouts with fresh eyes. If there are areas where workers or customers tend to gather, you can consider ways to rearrange the layout to give everyone more space.

Many restaurants are doing away with printed menus and are instead going digital. Remember that viruses can spread through ventilation systems so consider moving tables and seating away from air conditioning vents and place seating in more ventilated areas, such as patios or sidewalks when possible. For retail locations, think about customer behaviors and the displays they frequent and consider spreading them out to add browsing room.

Before taking any of these steps, make sure to consult with the CDC guidelines and appropriate professionals, including local public health professionals.

3.   Hygiene

The pandemic has been more of a marathon than a sprint, and 20-second handwashing and 6-foot distancing are now routine. But with restrictions easing, it’s tempting to let safety procedures lapse. Will you return to pre-pandemic hygiene practices? It may be a good idea to adhere to federal, state and local guidelines and consult a professional with any questions. This isn’t just for pandemic safety, but for everyday safety.

4.   Sick leave policies

Consider how you might update your policies to accommodate expectations and hopes for more flexible working schedules. Federal guidelines recommend “flexible” and “non-punitive” approaches to sick leave. Individual state and local guidelines may have their own recommendations. One thing to consider is speaking to other local business owners or industry experts to get other perspectives. Rather than basing your policy around a set number of days, consider offering ample schedule flexibility as employees recover or care for loved ones.

5.   Back-to-work anxieties

Even if your business is ready to open up, some employees may not feel safe returning to work. For instance, they may care for an older relative or want to be home with young children. Or they may have anxiety about being around too many people.

Whatever their concerns, take the time to talk with your employees — one on one. Things to consider sharing are why you’ve decided to reopen, what policies and practices you’re putting into place to keep them safe and offering them a chance to ask questions and voice their fears and concerns, even if you’re not able to make changes.

Your employees likely have their own ideas about how to return to work safely and how to make the transition easier. These don’t all have to be serious public health policies. For instance, allowing pets in the office could make the transition easier and help with everyone’s stress. Or maybe there’s an empty conference room or corner of the stockroom that could be the “Zoom room,” where employees can take breaks to check in on family.

6.   Resiliency

The pandemic offers a lesson for business leaders: You can’t predict the future, but you can be prepared for uncertainty. Once you’ve reopened, consider taking the time to talk with customers and get their feedback. You probably want to check in with your employees to ask how their experience has been. What’s working? What would they change? You may not be able to take everyone’s advice while maintaining safe practices, but at least they’ll feel heard.

State, local and federal agencies will continue to update their own rules and guidance. Staying resilient  in turbulent times is more important than ever. Be ready to make more changes and keep everyone in the loop on any new guidelines. Consider having a quick daily check-in meeting or adding a few minutes to an existing meeting to discuss your new policies.  Also, make sure to regularly check the federal, state and local guidelines and consult a professional with any questions.

 

For informational/educational purposes only: The views expressed in this article may differ from those of other employees and departments of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Views and strategies described may not be appropriate for everyone and are not intended as specific advice/recommendation for any business or individual. You should carefully consider your business and personal needs and objectives before making any decisions and consult the appropriate professional(s).

JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2021 JPMorgan Chase & Co.