2020 and the beginning of 2024 were difficult times for most small businesses, which led to some of them closing down permanently because they couldn’t afford to wait for the pandemic to clear. Many businesses had to change how they operated.
Fortunately, things are gradually getting back to normal. People have been vaccinated, restrictions have been lifted in most places, and the COVID-19 infection rates have dropped. However, if you’re planning to reopen your business, you should be well prepared. Below are a few tips to help you reopen your business.
1. Make some changes to your workspace to protect employee health
Even if you’re unsure of when you will return to your workplace, there are some things that you can do now to prepare. To begin with, you need to ensure that your staff will enforce proper and frequent handwashing. Therefore, stock up on supplies that will help you ensure that this is easily followed. In addition, you should think about how you can nudge your employees and make it a default behavior. For instance, you can install more hand sanitizing stations and more signs up with visible and clear instructions.
2. Perform hardware and software upgrades
After the pandemic, you obviously changed your business policies to allow your employees to work from home. This means that your IT team had to ensure that your network and the corresponding applications, cloud technologies, and servers could accommodate the increased number of remote workers.
However, while you may have given your attention to remote access and cloud technologies, the upkeep, and management of your corporate LAN and WAN may have slipped.
Before your employees can get back to the office, you need IT network capacity planning and management to perform the necessary hardware and software upgrades, like detailed here. Doing this will help to reduce network outages that can negatively impact business operations.
3. Get the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE)
You need to have a plan in place to provide your staff with PPE and be ready if some will be required. Note that wearing masks in workplaces and communal places is still being encouraged.
4. Inspect the building
If your office building has been vacant for a long time, you need to inspect it and fix any damages to ensure that it’s ready for occupation. Here are a few things that you should check:
- Look for any signs of insect or rodent infestation
- Check the perimeter for signs of vandalism or trespassing
- Inspect your roof for any signs of water damage
- Inspect your workspace, equipment, tools, and any machinery
In case you find any damage, you may need to report it to your insurance company to start the claim process. Remember to also inspect the building’s fire protection system, HVAC system, and security system to confirm that everything is functional.
5. Write down your reopening plan
To ensure the success of your business and protect your business, clients, and employees, you may want to consider writing down a reopening plan. Ideally, your plan should include the preparation phase of your office to reopen, connecting with vendors, training your employees, and communicating with customers.
Keep in mind that you’ll have to maintain and also revise your plan when need be, for instance, if the CDC, WHO, or state or local or state authorities issue new guidelines.
6. Ensure that your customers feel safe
Although everything is opening up, not everyone will want to go out in public. Remember that some people are also at a higher risk than others. For these reasons, give your customers many options that will help them feel safer. You can do this by:
- Maintaining high standards of cleanliness.
- Update your customers with any changes in business hours and policies.
- Offer flexible services.
- Use various online and offline channels to communicate with customers. You can post signs, communicate via social media, and update your website.
- Invest in new tech that promotes safety. For instance, most restaurants are now offering contactless ordering.
7. Update what and how you sell
When the pandemic hit, most businesses began changing or adding their products and services. If this is the case, consider the following:
- Selling your physical products from an e-commerce store. Even when your physical location is still open, you can still sell online.
- Offer flexible options, such as delivery. This is much safer and more convenient for your customers.
8. Create a hybrid workplace environment
As we return to normalcy, there is a high likelihood that more employees will return to the office. However, it’s important that you be prepared for anything to come up and potentially sending your employees home to work. Therefore, it’s important that you create a hybrid home and office type of workplace. This means ensuring that all apps, digital resources, and data are accessible and perform effectively.
9. Rethink your staffing policies
In 2020 and part of 2024, most businesses were forced to either have their employees work remotely or lay them off. For those businesses that remained open, they still had to cut back, mainly due to social distancing, fewer customers, and lower revenue. Therefore, as you plan to reopen your business, you shouldn’t just return to how you operated pre-pandemic. Instead, there are a few things you should consider, including:
- Operating with a smaller staff till the economy stabilizes.
- Match your employee needs to seasonal needs. For instance, you can get more employees during the summer than at other times of the year.
- Consider getting temporary workers, especially if your staffing needs are uncertain.
- If possible, allow your employees to continue working remotely.
10. Seek funding
If you want to reopen your business and ensure that it’s successful, you should get adequate cash flow. This may be a challenge, especially if you had closed shop for months. As a small business owner, you have a variety of funding options. Some were created in 2020 while others have been there for years.
As your employees grow comfortable enough to return to the office, you need to plan in advance and prepare for the new normal. Take the above steps to reopen your business as restrictions are lifted across the country.