After 9 weeks of quarantine, cities and states across the country are starting to reopen. Depending on where you live, your industry, your audience and your workforce, reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic will look very different.
At Accelity, we’ve been hosting our COVID-19 Business Strategy Open Forum to discuss the topics small business leaders care about most during this chaotic time. Last week we were joined by guest speaker Rebecca Heidepriem, Certified Business Coach, who shared her insights on how to answer the question, “Is my business ready to reopen?”
We’re beginning to see an end in sight, but many of us are wondering how the return to “normal” will work and how long it’s going to take.
Rebecca outlined 9 categories that small business leaders will need to consider when deciding whether you’re ready to reopen.
If you’ve been working remotely during quarantine, you’re likely familiar with the tools that can help you do business such as Basecamp, Trello and Zoom. Collaboration technology can help your team and your clients feel like they’re engaging together, no matter where you are.
If you’re returning to the office, you also need to consider the technology required for safety measures. Do you need to take temperatures? Do contact tracing?
Create a plan that details how employees will work remotely and/or in-person that addresses their needs and their safety.
2. Human management
In addition to physical safety, we need to make sure that our coworkers are doing well emotionally. Some people will need to stay home, whether because they’re part of an at-risk group or because they need to care for others. How will you keep that employee engaged?
Your default should be to use video and/or phone calls as the primary form of communication—not email. Email is impersonal, and your team needs to see you and hear from you.
3. Social distancing
Most of our physical office spaces aren’t designed to meet the recommended social distancing guidelines. You’ll likely need some form of physical barrier to help keep employees who share desk space protected, and if possible, to space out employee desks. You may also consider staggering start times or days in the office to limit exposure.
Office space will need rigorous and frequent cleaning. Stocking up on cleaning supplies and encouraging more cleaning activities will be part of office management. Ask your building’s landlord what his or her plan is to keep the space clean.
When your workforce is spread out, how do you make sure everyone collaborates in the same way? Some of the strategies Rebecca recommended included a morning huddle where everyone reviews their plan for the day and an end-of-day activity where each person score’s themself on their performance. She also encourages teams to start each meeting with a WIFLE, or “what I feel like expressing.” We always start our Accelity team meetings this way!
5. COVID-19 best practices
Is there a measure you’ve implemented in the past few weeks to adapt to safety recommendations, but has actually turned out to be a great practice for your company?
Rebecca shared an example of a landscaping company that moved to staggered start times to promote social distancing. What the owner found was that the days now began more smoothly—there was less socializing and less chaos than if everyone was in the yard at once.
Many leaders were highly averse to working remotely, but have now seen that it can work. Consider how COVID-19 best practices might also help you run your business more effectively.
Throughout these forums, we’ve discussed that it’s especially important for small businesses to continue marketing to ensure a steady pipeline. Increase the number of blogs, videos, testimonials and other content that provides value to your audience. Your goal is to explain how you can help during this time.
Embrace this opportunity to find new ways to serve your customers. Rebecca recommended incorporating “critical non-essentials,” the important things you don’t have to do, but that are critical to the business; for example, sending gifts to clients’ homes or buying access to online learning resources for employees with children.
While you don’t have to come out of quarantine having learned a new language, you should consider how you are learning and taking advantage of this time. What can you do to learn, grow and improve?
Shifting your mindset and practicing more mindfulness would be a huge takeaway, especially for business leaders. Consider developing a mantra that you can repeat when you need a boost.
Most importantly, find small wins and honor them. Businesses don’t celebrate enough—and they should! You deserve it.
8. The first 90 days
You are going to come out of this on the other size, beginning a new chapter. Why not have a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate? We will be better because of this, and that should be honored.
What will those first 90 days back look like for your business?
9. Create a plan
This list is a great start to help you think about reopening, but you still need a plan. Use this time to outline:
- How are you going to get new clients?
- How are you acquiring new businesses?
- How will you protect your business and personal finances?
- How will you manage employees and their varying needs going forward?
Leaders—and teams—have a lot to consider right now. How do we create new business opportunities? What financial model will best serve the company and our clients? How can we protect each other while still enjoying the benefits of human connections? These are all questions we will need to tackle, together, in the coming weeks and months.