Getting back to business after COVID-19: Your complete guide

After a crisis, it's only natural that you wonder how to reopen your doors. Click here for some insight on how to open your business after COVID-19 calms down.

The world came to a standstill when the first COVID-19 cases were reported. Businesses closed, children stayed home from school, and thousands were hospitalised.

But now that numbers are stabilised and certain countries make the move toward a more normal way of life, businesses are preparing to reopen their doors.

What steps must business owners take to ensure the safety of their employees and try to recoup their loses?

Here we'll take a look at business after COVID-19, including tips for reopening with success.

Sanitise and decontaminate facilities

The first step to opening businesses after COVID-19 is sanitising and decontaminating your business - even if your establishment had no confirmed cases of the virus.

You can hire a professional cleaning service or complete a thorough cleaning yourself. Disinfect all surfaces including door handles, equipment, desks, chairs, and any common areas.

Once the initial disinfecting is complete, it's important to continue routine and regular cleaning practices. Wipe down surfaces with both soap, water and a disinfecting solution. Be sure to wear protective gear when using any chemicals such as bleach.

If your place of business has any soft surfaces (i.e. couches, rugs, curtains), you may need to wash, steam clean, or replace some items. Encourage workers to disinfect and sanitise their laptops before returning to work after COVID-19.

Protect employees

In addition to performing deep sanitisation before opening your doors, there are other measures you can take to protect your employees.

Proper ventilation is an important part of keeping your staff safe. Install high efficiency air filters where possible. 

Depending on the type of business you run, consider physical barriers between employees and between workers and customers. Sneeze guards are a popular choice in many retail establishments. 

Offering drive-through services also limits contact between staff and customers. 

Test network servers

Aside from testing employees for the virus itself, you may need to test your network servers before reopening. Determine which databases you need to run your business as usual and which may have been impacted by the virus.

You may see a decline in the speed and efficiency of your company's internet service due to the influx of users. With more employees accessing the internet from home and students engaging in remote learning, WiFi speeds are at an all-time low.

Check with your provider and see what measures you can take to support uninterrupted service. If your company data is stored in a cloud, double-check that your information is still safe, secure, and accessible. 

Reintroduce staff slowly

It's recommended that your business reopens slowly following COVID-19. You can't resume business as usual on day one.

Instead, slowly reintroduce staff to the office. COVID-19 has forced millions of Australians to work from home. Start by allowing a percentage of staff to return.

Evaluate which positions are done best from the office and bring those team members back first. Once they've re-acclimated and you've determined reopening is safe, bring in the second wave of employees.

You may need to adopt a new schedule that includes extra shifts and alternating days. This allows employees to maintain their distance while also securing their full-time position.

Educate employees 

Knowledge is power when it comes to getting back to business after COVID-19. Don't allow yourself or your employees to get too lax. Stay informed about changing trends and the threat of a second resurgence of the virus.

Educate employees about preventative behaviours and risk factors. Encourage employees who aren't feeling well to stay home. This includes common symptoms of the virus including high fever, difficulty breathing, and body aches.

Some establishments will require staff to be tested before returning to work. If you require employees to wear protective gear including masks, gloves, and other PPE (personal protective equipment), provide training on how to properly use these items. 

Recalculate expenses

Many businesses lost thousands of dollars due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Some will never recover.

Before reopening your doors, you may need to recalculate overhead expenses and cut costs where appropriate. While these changes may not be permanent, they may be necessary at the onset.

Be careful where you cut costs, though. Your main goal right now is to rebuild and recoup your losses.

Every cut you make will directly affect your ability to generate more revenue.

Some businesses may go as far as to restructure their business model. Take a look at what you sell, to whom, and how your goods or service is delivered. 

Given the new landscape of your industry, does your original business plan still make sense? If not, consider what changes you need to make to your business structure to remain relevant and sustainable. 

Consider new vendors

The reality of business after COVID-19 is that not everyone will recover. Some businesses that closed will never reopen. Do your vendors fall into this category?

If so, you may need to find new ones, which will take time and money. Look at your supply chain and figure out where the gaps are.

If you ship or deliver products, you may also need to ramp up these efforts. Some consumers who didn't require delivery before might need it now.

Business after COVID-19 will look different

One of the most important things to keep in mind is that business after COVID-19 won't be the same as it was before. You'll need to implement some major changes before and after you reopen your doors.

Employees may need to adopt a new work schedule and hygiene practices. You may need to consider new vendors and restructure your business model.

The good news is, there is life after COVID-19. By taking the right measures, your business can successfully reopen.

Do you need help returning to business as usual following the Coronavirus outbreak? Our Return to Work Services can offer the support you need.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for more useful information and contact us to learn more about the many services we offer.

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The information contained herein is offered as risk and claims management industry guidance and provided as an overview of current market risks and available programs and is intended for discussion purposes only. This publication is not intended to offer legal advice or client-specific risk management advice. General descriptions contained herein do not include complete definitions, terms, and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for claims management interpretation. Actual claims and risk management policies must always be consulted for full coverage details and analysis.

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