Small Business Brief

Business Advice

How to Keep Your Business Open After COVID: Work Activities, Social Distancing, and More

Do you want to know what you can do to keep your business open after the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you finally want to continue your work activities?

There’s no question about the global economic impact of the coronavirus.

The virus’s devastating effects on health and the economy created big changes in how the world works. In the US, it caused 22 million jobs, which are the estimated net number of jobs created in 9 years and a half. 

Businesses had to close down or stop operating in the meantime. Yet, as we learn how to contain the virus and keep everyone safe, the business sector is opening again. Before business owners get back in the game, they need to learn how to adapt to the new normal.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the things you need for sanitation, the new work activities to add, and more. Keep reading to learn more.

1. Know and Follow COVID-19 Guidelines 

Before anything else, you need to know the federal, state, and local laws created to combat COVID-19. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the best resources for general public health guidelines. The CDC website also features web pages dedicated to providing aid for businesses. They offer guidelines for businesses and workplaces, as well as checklists.

If you want to be more technical, you can go to Find the COVID-19 guide made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the Department of Labor.

It’s not enough to follow federal rules and guidelines for handling the coronavirus. Go on the online pages or websites of your state and local governments as well. You’ll see that these have rules and guidelines that are more specific.

2. Take a Step Back and Assess the Financial Damage 

Before you take other steps, find out where your business stands. How affected is the business? Is it in a good place to continue, or do you need to sacrifice a few things to stay open? 

If you don’t know, it’s likely because you haven’t made updates on your financial statements. This is a good time to do it. This way, you know the hard numbers.

Those include everything from profits to losses. Note your cash flow and sales as well. Compare these numbers to last year’s numbers for your assessment. 

You can also look at other business elements other than the hard numbers. How is your manpower doing? Are you lacking employees, or do you have too many now?

Because of the coronavirus, most businesses laid off rather than hired employees. This smaller workforce suited the reduced workloads. Other businesses chose to cut ties with freelancers or outsourced help.

Speaking of outsourced help, don’t forget the programs, tools, or software you pay for. If you pay $14.99 for an email management software, choose to cut it. You can always use simpler but free alternatives online.

3. Recreate Your Business Plan

After you do the two steps above, it’s time to rethink your business plan. It helps to know even the slightest details of your business plan and how you can alter it. How will your business best adapt to the new normal with a revised business plan? 

Focus on flexibility and practicality. If you plan to reopen a physical store, how will you control the safety of everyone who goes in? How will you apply the regulations without depleting your remaining resources?

The new necessity for businesses to remain open is to shift online. This isn’t easy, especially if your business needs in-person contact like spas or massages. However, you can find ways to earn online even if you can’t offer your regular services yet.

Let’s not forget that remote work is also going to be the new normal for a long while. Change your business plan so that it fits a remote solution. Video conferencing programs like Zoom and Skype are great tools.

If the work you do has a collaborative nature, use tools like Google Docs or Google Sheets. With these tools, it’s easy to see real-time edits on documents or spreadsheets. 

4. Keep Essential Work Going

About 62% of employed Americans now work from home. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to keep your physical store closed.

Notice how many non-essential shops, establishments, and public venues remain closed until today. You can keep your business open. However, you likely have to drop non-essential services until the situation diffuses.

If you’re unsure about where your business lies, refer to the government. Again, the federal, local, and state laws will define what involves essential businesses. They will be the ones pointing out the various segregations of businesses.

Keeping a business going during the coronavirus crisis is riskier than ever. This is why you must learn the details about the crisis and the trends in business. Reading about possible outcomes and lessons from history can give you an edge. 

5. Adjust Work Activities to Fit the New Normal

Again, you can find the guidelines for these measures in the law for reducing the risks of COVID-19 cases. This part will highlight the top activities you need to observe and practice. It all starts with improving hygiene at the workplace:

Observe Better Hygiene Practices

Before you reopen, assess the current cleaning and sanitation of the business. Does it follow the CDC’s recommendations? If it doesn’t, alter the business’s cleaning and sanitation practices to fit it.

It’s also helpful to post reminders and hold short meetings on improving hygiene. Remind your employees to wash their hands often. If they must cough or sneeze, they must do it into their elbow or a tissue. 

Check Employee Health Often

You can’t always be certain that your employees don’t have the COVID-19 virus. Thus, you want to have a plan in place to observe the health of your employees. Focus on checking for symptoms that are specific to the COVID-19 virus.

Discourage them from coming to work if they’re feeling sick. Communicate with your employees about sick time and paid time off policies. If possible, let your employees know that their jobs will remain secure.

If you find that one of your employees is positive for the COVID-19 virus, how will you handle it? Check OSHA’s guidelines for the steps of isolating employees with COVID-19 symptoms. It has specific steps for managing employees that may have the coronavirus.

From 11% in 2019, 46% of consumers now use telehealth or virtual healthcare. Check the health of your remote workers or have them do it and report back to you. Include them in your health check plans, too.

Provide Personal Protective Equipment for Employees

Wearing personal protective equipment or PPEs reduces the risk of spreading the virus. Provide face shields, disposable gloves, and masks for employees. Businesses bound by the OSHA must adhere to their working guidelines.

When you provide masks and gloves for customers on the premises, have a plan. How and where will they receive their gloves and masks? Don’t forget to place special waste bins for these items when customers take them off.

6. Practice and Encourage Social Distancing

Everyone needs to observe social distancing in their work activities. Scientists say that you need to have at least a distance of 2 meters to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Tell your employees to observe social distancing and to remind customers of it as well.

If the store or workspace is small, consider limiting the number of people who enter it. Prepare distanced markers outside where customers may wait in line. Also, try to separate the entrance and exit points in your store.

For example, if you only have one entry point, place a division in the middle. One half will become an entrance while the other half is the exit. You can also place arrows that will guide the customers around your store, so they have minimal contact with each other.

For employees, assign teams to work on alternating shifts and schedules. If you have too many employees in your business, now’s the time to make cuts. One way to get around letting go of people is to lessen their work hours so everyone else can work as well. 

7. Create a Contingency Plan

We don’t know how long it’ll take before the coronavirus disappears. We also don’t know if or when any new viruses may shake the economy again. Thus, you want to be ready for the next big emergency or crisis.

Learn from the mistakes you made when managing the business during the pandemic. Use what you learned to create an improved contingency plan. This will help keep you above the water the next time you fall into an emergency.

Open a Safe and COVID-19-Free Business

Now you know the top changes and work activities you need to do to protect everyone in the business.

Today, we hope you learned something new from this post. We also hope you stay safe and healthy as the world recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

If you want to learn more about managing a business in difficult times, see our other posts.