Many businesses have been forced to close their premises or change the way they operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. But with restrictions being gradually lifted, here is our advice for life after lockdown and reopening a business.
Here are our top tips for how to prepare for the reopening of your business premises:
- Design for social distancing
With the expectation that social distancing will remain in place, shops need to consider options on limiting the number of customers in their premises by:
- Introducing appointment slots
- Increasing the space between customers by using a one way system
- Painting or sticking markers on the floor to manage potential queues and use outside premises where available and safe
- Install glass screens between customers and employees at tills
- Encourage customers to shop alone where possible
- Inform customers of guidance through signage and/or vocal reminders
You could begin to sell face masks and coverings so that those caught unprepared can purchase different forms of protection. This could be an additional revenue stream as well as protecting both your staff and your customers.
You might also need to consider changing working hours for your employees. If fewer people are allowed on the premises at one time, this could lead to the need for additional opening hours to accommodate demand.
- Cleaning and hygiene practices
Businesses will play a big role in helping prevent the spread or a second wave of the virus as lockdown eases. You should consider developing cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures to keep customers and employers safe. Here’s how:
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning of all work and public spaces paying close attention to high touch areas such as handrails and door handles
- Providing hand sanitiser and disposable tissues around the office or across shop floors
- Sanitising equipment between customers such as tills and card machines
- Encourage staff to bring their own mug, cutlery and plates
- Avoid hotdesking and sharing equipment and where this is not possible, clean workstations between different occupants
Additionally, businesses should look to reduce touchpoints by encouraging hands-free transactions through contactless payments where possible.
Consider replacing touchscreens, such as those used for people checking in for appointments, with paper processes. If this is unavoidable, touchscreens should be sanitised between uses and customers should have access to hand sanitiser before using. Another alternative is to provide disposable gloves for customers to use.
- Communicate your plans for reopening
When you are reopening your business, it’s important to communicate with your employees, customers, and suppliers to prepare them for the change.
- Talk to your employees and gain feedback
For employees that have been furloughed or working from home, they may be desperate to get back to work, or may be understandably anxious about returning. To help reassure employees, acknowledge the challenges ahead and encourage an open culture for communicating about their concerns.
This may help identify areas that you might have missed, and open communication can support employees with their mental health. You should highlight the steps and procedures put into place to help them work safely while social distancing.
- Share new ways of working with customers
Communicating with your customers is very important. Let your customers know you are re-opening, mentioning any changes to opening times and working practises. Be clear on the hygiene and leaning measures you have out in place to show you’re keeping them safe, so they know what to expect.
In order to communicate these changes, make use of all your digital channels such as social media, website, email newsletters, as well as on site signage.
- Invest in the latest payment technology
Three out of four brits feel the coronavirus outbreak will affect their use of cash in the future and are opting for contactless payments to reduce contact, therefore it is vital that your business offers the safest way for your customers to pay.
Investing in an order and pay app, over the phone payments or the latest contactless card machine is critical to ensure you offer your customers the service they expect in these unprecedented circumstances.
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