The “New Normal” – How Do I Reopen My Small Business Amid the Novel Coronavirus?
As we navigate these unprecedented times, it can be difficult to consider, think about, and implement best practices – the safest practices – as you consider reopening your small business. Even knowing where to turn for reliable information can feel overwhelming. Some sources we think are useful and accurate, especially if you’re looking for general information or additional resources, include:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration
- National Institutes of Health
For those of us with small businesses in California, a good place to start, when looking for helpful information, include:
- California Department of Public Health
- California Labor & Workforce Development Agency
- California Department of Industrial Relations
COVID-19 knows no boundaries. So, when considering reopening your small business, it is important to think about the information from, and requirements imposed by, the federal government, as well as the governments of your state, county, and city. And since we learn more about the virus and how best to combat it with every passing day, it is important to refer to these resources often. What was needed yesterday may be unnecessary today. What is anticipated for next week might be unthinkable this week.
Yes, it’s challenging. It’s not easy to do everything you can to keep your employees, contractors, customers, and vendors as safe as possible, while you do the very same for your family, friends and yourself. Here, it’s important to remember you’re not alone! This “new normal” is unprecedented, and everyone is required to take steps now that they never even considered before.
But that’s not to say you can’t reopen your business when the conditions are right, and the appropriate government agency gives you the “green light.” As you begin thinking about reopening your small business, there are a number of things you should consider as soon as you can, and certainly before reopening:
- Will you require employees to wear personal protective equipment when they are within proximity of one another or are in shared spaces while in the office? Are you legally required to do so? Are there safe workarounds that are allowed?
- Is your floorspace such that you can ensure appropriate physical distancing measures (at least 6 feet)? If not, how can you reconfigure the space so that important safety measure is in place and effective. Easy, inexpensive measures will probably come to mind when you start to think about this.
- Regardless of whether safe physical distancing can be put in place, which of your employees can work effectively from home or another safe, remote location? Here, too, a little thought may lead you to manageable solutions.
- If employees can’t effectively telework, can workhours be staggered to reduce the number of folks in your workspace at any given time?
- What do you need to tell your employees, visitors, guests, customers, clients and vendors about how you plan to make them safe and help them feel safe? What do you need your employees, clients and customers to do to keep the workplace safe?
- Do you have someone at your workplace who is the “go to” person for questions and concerns about COVID-19 and workplace health and safety? This “go to” person should be someone who can take responsibility and is authorized to provide answers and solutions.
- What can you do to distribute disinfecting supplies throughout the workplace to ensure surfaces – especially shared ones – can be kept clean and safe? There are probably areas in your workspace where this will be very important.
This surely isn’t a complete list of the issues to be considered when reopening a small business in this “new normal” – especially where there are various requirements tailored to the particular type of business. What a restaurant must do to ensure employee and customer safety will be different from what is needed to do the same for a small trucking company. A hair salon will have needs that differ from those of a retail store. In thinking about reopening, and using the available resources, including those listed above, it’s important to consider the type of small business you’re operating.
If you have any specific needs or questions about your particular business, and how to get it up and running safely in these challenging times, please contact us.