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Unless you’ve been living in oblivion, then you know the widespread impact that COVID-19 has had. Globally, there are no groups of people or individuals whose being has not been affected by the pandemic. This too applies to small businesses who have been amongst the hardest hit, regardless of sector.
Business owners have had to rapidly change the way in which they operate, this includes: setting staff up to work from home, digitizing daily operations, shifting to online retailing, and even some shutting down operations completely during the lockdown. It’s fair to say the pandemic has put business owners through their paces!
Nowadays, it seems wherever people turn, there is a new strain which is stronger and more contagious. With that comes a new set of government implemented rules leaving small business owners wondering if they’re doing enough?!
With the threat of future lockdowns the question small business owners are asking is “should we panic?”, the answer is no! It’s critical to forward plan and be prepared with all the tools that can help you survive and thrive through the pandemic. Lucky for you, we’ve sat down and thought about everything you could be doing to improve your current operations and make it through these trying times.
Check Your Rights
Before you even consider what you can do to improve your business during the pandemic. You should ensure that you have checked what funds are available to you. Small businesses are often able to apply for disaster relief, which is worth looking into as it could help your cash flow.
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Planning for Your Business During the Pandemic
As the coronavirus spreads, businesses are searching for new ways to maintain profits while keeping their staff safe. If you haven’t yet designed an emergency plan, now is the time to do so! It’s still not too late to put a plan in place.
Before you begin, you need to consider the following:
- Vital processes to help protect yourself and your employees
- Will business hours change due to the pandemic
- What will happen should one member catch the virus
- Setting up a way for employees to contact you after hours
We have broken it down for you along with our tips that you could apply to any small business during the pandemic.
How to Protect Your Staff?
Depending on your industry, if it’s possible, you could shift your operations to remote work. If you can’t, there are still plenty of ways to ensure safety.
Here are some tips you can use to keep your staff healthy:
Tip 1: Ask your employees to check their well-being before coming to work.
Staff should check their temperature and any COVID-19 symptoms before coming to work. If an employee feels slightly under the weather, you can suggest they get a covid test and wait at home until they are sure it’s negative.
Tip 2: Renew sick leave policies
Ensure that staff are aware of the new policies for the coronavirus. This includes knowing how to report sick leave. Furthermore, employees must have the phone numbers of relevant contacts should they have to enter quarantine. In addition, it’s essential that members of staff don’t feel penalized for staying home for testing positive.
Tip 3: Wear a mask even if not mandatory
Even if your country has announced that masks are no longer required, you can still advise your staff to wear well-fitted masks. It’s important to explain that masks can reduce the chance of contracting COVID-19. Additionally, inform staff that they should be changed daily or wash reusable ones to minimize germs.
Be sure to stay up to date on the latest CDC guidelines regarding masks as it varies per country and even per state.
Tip 4: Remind staff to be safe on public transport
If employees use public transport to arrive at work, you can provide guidelines to keep themselves safe during the pandemic. This is essential if your country no longer has limits on how many people can enter public transport at one time. Suggest your employees sit where there is an empty seat next to them to keep their distance and open a window if possible.
Tip 5: Contain the spread at work
If employees are working together, according to the CDC try to space them out to at least 6ft(2m) apart. When it comes to lunch and break times during the pandemic, try to spread out everyone’s breaks so that they are not together. This is because staff usually take off their masks to eat, drink, or generally have a short break from the mask. Moreover, break areas must be constantly cleaned and sanitized, as these areas potentially expose workers to COVID-19.
Tip 6: Hygiene should be your top priority
If your business is retail-based, not only do you have your staff to worry about, you also have your customers. To lower the risks for your employees, you can do the following:
- Place a hand sanitizer at convenient places
- Fit a plastic screen to the register
- Provide adequate training on how to avoid transmission
- Hang up signs reminding employees to wash their hands
- Hand washing signs should also be in break rooms as staff eat and drink in those areas
- Based on CDC guidelines you should also provide disposable paper towels in bathrooms instead of cloth towels to reduce the spread of germs
Tip 7: Keep your employees informed
Your employees should be aware of any changes to their daily routine, for example, lockdown or government updates. Explain all the measures you are putting in place in your business during the pandemic to limit their exposure to the virus. Hence, be an open book so that employees can ask any questions they may have.
Tip 8: Speak to your employees
With a lot of uncertainty, it’s nice for your employees to know that there is someone to turn to during these trying times. You can set up one on one meetings virtually just to ask for a general check-in. Employees will appreciate that you are going the extra mile to accommodate them.
How to Protect Your Place of Work?
Tip 1: Consider high traffic areas
You should sit down and think about which spaces are high-traffic zones where everyone walks. Surfaces should be disinfected frequently, including sinks and doorknobs. Make sure you have gloves at work if you require using chemicals. Check which disinfectant is approved by the EPA and kill off coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used correctly.
Tip 2: Clean, clean clean
Now you have a clear list of all the areas that are used a lot throughout the day. You can then begin sanitizing those areas.
If your establishment is in the retail industry, then your cleaning routine should be more detailed. It should include disinfecting carts and baskets. In addition, the cash register, credit card machines, light switches, and any surfaces or devices used.
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Tip 3: Avoid large amounts of customers
To ensure that customers enter your store wearing a mask, you can design clear stickers which can be hung up in your window displays. You can decide if you want to limit the number of people in your store at one time to protect yourself and your staff. You can design another sticker with your requirements all throughout your store.
Another method is to provide customers hand sanitizer outside your stores during the pandemic so that customers entering will not have germs on their hands.
Entrances should be left clear and any products should be moved. You can place stickers on your store floors to ensure one-way traffic through isles, so the customers are constantly moving and not passing each other.
Tip 4: Keep your customers up to date
Your customers should feel free to ask any questions they may have regarding your service. Customers will have questions about how your business will operate during the pandemic and if you are working according to the new laws that are in place.
By informing your customers beforehand, you can assure them that they are in safe hands and that you are doing your best. You could send out an email or update your work social media channels with the latest information about your business. This will avoid you receiving multiple phone calls as they can find out for themselves.
Changing Your Business Strategy
Companies need to decide whether to change up their business strategy with our new reality.
Retailers looking to cut the traffic in the store but keep up trade should think about having an online presence. Establishments could set up websites with all their products and introduce a click and collect system. Customers can virtually visit your store, make the purchase online and arrive at the store to collect their goods. You could offer home deliveries for a small charge.
To ensure you are keeping within the guidelines, you can drop the goods outside the house, ring on the doorbell, and step back 6ft to maintain social distance. Having a click and collect system minimizes the number of people who have touched the products from the supplier to the end customer. You could also extend opening hours to reduce the amount of people in your store at one time.
Depending on your business type, you could also run by appointment only to reduce the transmission. You can spread your staff out too so that they also work different hours. Some of your employees may have young children at home, so having different hours could help their schedule too.
Using Connecteam to Simplify Your Processes
With all the new rules set by our governments and what feels like adapting to our new environment daily, digitizing processes can help your team become more efficient! Apps like Connecteam have become the new right-hand man for many businesses.
The features that best serve your business for COVID compliance include:
- If schedules are changed last minute because someone is sick, easily replace that shift with another employee in real-time.
- Stagger schedules so that not all employees are working at the same time.
- Send reports and receive the information in real-time.
- Set automatic reminders to fill out a health form by a certain time. And filter results for example any employee who submitted 38c or above will receive the next steps.
- Add training materials directly onto the app to ensure that your team has the latest procedures in the palm of their hands.
- Share a quick update so all your employees know what to expect before their shift begins.
Additionally, you can send out questionnaires and live polls to gain feedback in real-time. Questionnaires can be sent privately, this is important if you want to find out who has been vaccinated and who hasn’t. With that data you can arrange meetings around the data collected. Click here to find out about COVID vaccines in the workplace.
And those are just some of the benefits of implementing Connecteam to ensure health and safety across the board at your business.
Bottom Line On How to Keep Your Business Secure During the Pandemic
While we are all adjusting to our new normal, it’s important to note that there are ways to keep your business afloat. Keeping employees in the loop about the new rules and regulations can make them feel more comfortable. Holding meetings to check how they are feeling about the situation can only result in happier morale.
When you add technology into the mix, you can ensure that you are doing everything in your power to rise above and keep thriving. You can change processes on the go, from wherever you are. Employees know ahead of time what’s next. You simply cut out all the confusion, and your business and staff can run efficiently and effectively. Once you begin digitizing, you’ll be wondering how you managed all your everyday operations without it!
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