COVID-19 Office Safety: 7 Tips on Reopening Your Small Business

While various essential businesses, like hospitals, grocery stores, and gas stations stayed open during the pandemic, other establishments have shut down temporarily, or have changed the nature of their operations.

However, many businesses, like those offering accounting services in Malta, are looking to reopen their premises after lockdown as businesses can now resume in some capacity. As a small business owner, you may be anxious about reopening your business and getting revenue flowing again.

If you’re considering reopening your business for the first time since restrictions have been eased in Canada, here are X tips on what you can do today to prepare your small business for reopening:

1. Observe Hand Hygiene and regular Cleaning Policies

While very basic, you need to follow protocols on hand sanitizing. Make sure there are enough hand gel stations throughout the premises. It is very important to maintain clean hands throughout the working days.

You can design a cleaning schedule and train your employees on its implementation to ensure that the business premises are always clean. Include work areas, staff rooms, canteens, toilet, office equipment, and frequent touch points such as door handles in the cleaning schedule.

2. Make Physical Distancing a Non-Negotiable

Whether you’re just in your office or attending a corporate event in Toronto, you need to maintain physical distancing. Note that you are required to keep a 2-meter physical distance between all persons in order to minimize transmission of COVID-19.

To do so, you need to limit the number of customers entering your office at one time, manage queues by marking the floor, or introduce safe routes like one-way systems inside the office. You don’t need the best security guard training in Toronto to implement this policy. You just have to frequently remind employees and customers through taped messages or announcements.

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3. Prioritize the Health and Safety of your Employees

Have policies in place to keep your employees safe and healthy. A number of your employees may be reluctant to go back to work unless they feel that they are protected and safe at work.

To do so, you can provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to your employees. You can also make changes to the workspace like adding physical barriers, altering layouts to establish at least two meters of distance between workstations, or staggering shifts and breaks to ensure social distancing.

You can also encourage your staff to take up the vaccine as it is still important that you monitor the health of your employees.

Most importantly, decide now on how you’ll deal with a positive case of COVID-19 in your workplace after reopening. You also need to ensure that your employees are aware of the steps you will take on managing and isolating employees displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

. Protect your customers, as well

If you are taking the above steps to protect your employees, you are already on your way to protecting your customers. However, if your business depends on high foot traffic from customers, you may need beyond cleaning and PPE to make your business premises safe for customers.

Review your local guidelines on the new capacity limits for your business location. Depending on your city’s guidance, you can also decide to go above and beyond to ensure social distancing in your location.

You may also want to consider requiring your customers to wear PPEs such as face masks while inside the business premises. If your budget allows, you can even offer face masks to your customers.

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. Revisit and revise your work policies

You are reopening your business during unprecedented times. Your current workplace policies may need to be updated to respond to the pandemic.

For example, your health policies, as well as HR policies. In order to do this, you need to establish policies that encourage sick employees to stay home without fear of getting sanctioned. You also need to make sure that employees know about these policies. You can also create leave policies to allow employees to stay at home to care for sick family members or care for children if the schools are closed.

Most importantly, because you have the responsibility to provide safe working conditions for your employees and the general protection and safety of customers, you need to improve policies on safety practices that employees need to follow in order to maintain a safe and COVID-free workplace.

. Check your property, machinery, and equipment

Prior to reopening your business or building after an extended closure, check the property, machinery and equipment.

For starters, check the building’s utility services like gas, electricity and water supplies and ensure that it is safe for reopening. The business premises should be inspected, cleaned, or if there are damages, repaired.

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems should also be inspected. You need to run these systems for hours prior to scheduling your reopening date to ensure that they are operating properly. If these systems need repair, have it serviced before the reopening date. With ventilation, ensure that there is an adequate supply of fresh air in enclosed areas of your workplace. Maximize ventilation by natural ventilation such as windows, doors and air vents, as well as mechanical ventilation like using fans and ducts to bring air from inside.

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If your business uses machinery or equipment, a sudden start of machinery and equipment after a long period of inactivity could lead to failure of some mechanical parts. A pre-start inspection should be done in order to minimize breakdowns.

. Communicate with your employees and customers

You need to regularly communicate with employees and customers and update them on your plans to reassure everyone that when reopening, you will be operating your business with safety and following the government-mandated protocols.

  • Create and share an FAQ document that outlines specific questions on new policies, your health and safety practices, and potential risks to your customers as well as how you mitigate those risks
  • Use multiple channels commonly used by your customers and employees to ensure that they receive the message
  • Demonstrate that customer interests are a priority and address their concerns directly

Reopening a business during a pandemic is risky, but it’s doable, so long as you are able to address the newest needs that have emerged due to the ongoing pandemic. Best of luck to braving this new world!