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How to Reopen Your Business Post COVID-19? A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Reopen Your Business Post COVID-19 A Step-by-Step Guide
Let’s face it! The world will never be the same again. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed how we work.
These changes have extended to how people commute, enter workplaces, interact with others, manage work, and more.
The post-pandemic world will not only have to be safe, but it also has to be ‘clean and organized’.
The reopening of businesses requires more than a return to normal as the pandemic has brought a fundamental shift to economic activity, fast-changing cultural norms, societal values, and behaviors.

This presents a need for many organizations to build the competencies they wish they’d invested in before: be more digital, data-driven to bring business process automation for reopening of businesses.

In this article, we’ll be guiding businesses of different industries on things businesses must focus on while reopening, what steps companies should take to reopen, and how different industries should approach reopening.

Top Most Factors to Consider While Reopening Businesses

Cleanliness and Assurance

The most important factors that every business must consider are cleanliness and assurance. In the post-pandemic world, employers need to provide assurance that workplaces are clean and assured.
Even if the most of the population achieves herd immunity from COVID-19, employees will expect facilities to maintain high standards.
Cleanliness and Assurance
Hence, organizations need to adopt rigorous cleaning procedures for employees and customers. All these procedures will need to be transparent to all parties.
For instance, every stakeholder must be aware of the cleaning schedule that the particular company follows.
Supervisors will need to implement a host of new standards, which will require them to develop a new set of skills around the management of cleaning, disinfection, and inspection.
Furthermore, it is important to bring in stringent practices for employees like hand washing instruction, cleaning techniques, mask usage, social distancing protocols, etc.
Leaders should also learn to create a complete plan about the review and enforcement of these proactive to keep everything in place.

Health Screening

If the businesses are looking to resume their operations, it is pivotal to screen their employees for COVID-19 symptoms.
Businesses must have a complete health status of their employees such as vaccination details, contact & travel history, symptoms, etc.
Such information at fingertips will help organizations to create special protocols for employees that have been facing symptoms like isolation room, quarantine period, leave policy, etc., and create a safer health environment.

Isolation and Individualization

One of the most useful ways to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to maintain social distancing and isolation.
As people return to work, it is important for businesses to evaluate shift schedules, rotations, and start times in order to minimize exposure.
Besides, you should also make design changes in most crowded places like the cafeteria, meeting halls, shop floor, visitor areas, etc. to reduce exposure.

Preparation & Planning

Reopening of business will require planning, training, and practice to combat COVID-19 related challenges.
All businesses must have policies and practices ready to go when needed. For instance, for IT organizations, it is important to have robust systems to manage work from home and other needs.
Preparation & Planning - Axonator
Depending on the industry, businesses must have periodic drills to ensure the robustness of plans and the readiness of leaders.
At a tactical level, it also means having stockpiles of sanitizers, facemasks, PPE kits, and other essentials.
At an individual level, it also means having clear behavioral expectations, review, and feedback. At a board level, it means phased reopening and review for plan robustness.

Compliance with Relevant Guidelines

Finally, organizations will need to consider proceeding carefully as they enforce new procedures and protocols to adhere to established general and COVID-19-related EEOC and OSHA guidelines.
All employers must consider staying up to date on guidance from the CDC, OSHA, and the EEOC, as well as state and local authorities.

Reopening Preparation of Industries

As the world is recovering from a current pandemic, we will witness some fundamental shifts that address physical and emotional challenges.
Businesses of all industries have to adapt and respond to the challenges of pandemics. It will require thoughtfulness and planning.
People will need to change their fundamental behaviors of how work gets done and how we keep our facilities clean and assured.
In the upcoming part of the article, we have created guidelines on how different industries should prepare for reopening.

1. Reopening workplaces & offices

While there is no company rulebook for a reopening, organizations and various government agencies such as the CDC ( Centers for Disease Control and OSHA have issued numerous sets of recommendations for dealing with COVID-19 that aid companies in developing protocols.
To give organizations a head start consider the below-mentioned points while reopening offices and workplaces

Checklists for Cleaning & Disinfection

As offices start to return to work, we’ll need to think about the regular and deep cleaning of our facilities and workplaces.

Office digital cleaning checklists look at a variety of aspects of the cleaning process in the COVID-19 world and help you to understand what can be done and should be done.

Flexible Inspection Forms ​
It looks at 6 areas, ‘What organizations need to do ?’, ‘When do they need to clean?’, ‘Safely cleaning’, ‘Preparing to clean’ and ‘After cleaning’.
These cover the main areas required to meet your objectives, allowing you to tick off each part of the process as soon as it is complete.
Consider the below-mentioned areas that would require deep cleaning and disinfection to keep organizations safe from containing COVID-19.
  • General Services like switches, walls, doors, door frames, desks, assets, vertical surfaces using approved disinfectants
  • Carpet & Rugs including Properly arrange tables, desks & chairs, detail vacuum including corners & edges.
  • Hard Surface Floors with corners & edges using neutral cleaners and disinfectant.
  • Bathrooms, Breakrooms & Kitchens, Entryways and Lobbies.

Employee Screening

Every organization that is eying reopening, must consider employee health checkups.

A regular employee health screening solution helps your team to keep track of their health status and thus take precautionary steps at the right time.

Axonators Coronavirus Employee Health Screening App
This mandatory health checkup not only saves time and money for the employer and employees but also identifies minor health issues before they turn severe.
Health screening will help organizations in the below-mentioned areas –
  • Capture coronavirus symptoms Information, travel & constant history, and store this information at a centralized place
  • Drive health-conscious decisions within organizations
  • Get instant alerts as soon as a risk is reported
  • Automatic health report generation

Recordkeeping of Employee Details

To maintain complete safety standards, it is important for organizations to store self-declarations from employees like vaccination details, symptoms, temperature reading, contact history, locations, etc. in a centralized place. It will help organizations in the below-mentioned ways.

  • To create potential alerts to relevant stakeholders
  • Comply with local, national, and international authorities
  • To get a bird-eye-view of all employee health
  • Create a Safe working environment

Inspection of Assets & Facilities

Given the current nature of the virus’ transmissibility, facility maintenance and cleaning must be at the forefront of your reopening plans.

Having a facility management digital checklist to rely upon can go a long way towards ensuring a compliant and safe facility that everyone will feel comfortable returning to.

In addition to the cleaning, inspection, and maintenance tasks that are already part of the facility management role, new requirements emerged post-pandemic reopening. These responsibilities include:
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  • Site readiness
  • Sanitization processes, temperature checks, contact tracing, exposure reporting, and notification
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) adherence
  • Indoor air quality and ventilation
  • Contamination response plans
  • Checks on increasingly taxed assets such as HVAC systems and air purifiers, fire systems, electric systems, etc.

2. Reopening Schools & Universities

As the schools and universities are starting to resume their activities, adopting varying degrees of strict measures to combat and control the spread of COVID-19 disease is of paramount importance.
In this context, it is pivotal to develop a proper plan for the reopening of schools and universities.
Schools and universities must focus on the prevention and promotion of good risk management behaviors to facilitate a safe environment.
If you are planning a reopening soon, consider the below-mentioned points.

Digital Checklists to Enforce Strict Hygiene and Cleaning Norms

Always follow strict hygiene and cleaning norms to keep educational spaces clean and safe.

You can also leverage deep cleaning digital checklists to develop, implement, and maintain or revise your cleaning and hygiene plan.

Consider the below-mentioned areas that would require deep cleaning and disinfection to keep your schools and safe from containing COVID-19.
  • High-touch surfaces and objects (such as door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains within the school and on school transport vehicles (such as buses) at least once a day or as often as needed (for example, when visibly dirty).
  • Limit sharing of high-touch objects that are difficult to regularly clean (such as, electronic devices, pens, pencils, books, games, art supplies, lab equipment).
  • Regularly (at least once a day or as often as needed) clean surfaces using soap or detergent.
  • Encourage the use of hand sanitizers to reduce germs on the hands and establish strict hygiene culture.

Perform Health Screening of Students.

In the initial phase of reopening, it is important for schools and businesses to perform daily screening for students and staff in the school or universities.
You must perform temperature checks and record symptoms upon arrival, before entering the building for students.
Government organizations advise at least two temperature checks daily.
All schools and universities should have all this data stored at a centralized location to get a birds-eye view of what’s happening on the premises

Students’ health screening will help organizations in the below-mentioned areas –

  • Record COVID-19 symptoms Information, travel & constant history, and store this information at a centralized place
  • Drive health-conscious decisions within educational premises.
  • Get instant alerts as soon as a risk is reported.
  • Automatic health report generation of each and every student.
  • Create a safer learning experience for students.

Social Distancing in Classroom

Social distancing remains the most viable option for schools and universities to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Below are some of the ways that will help educational institutions to maintain social distancing.
  • Maintain 2 meters (6 feet) of separation in class.
  • Divide class size into more groups (10 or 11 students per student).
  • Use outside areas, gyms, and secondary school classrooms to limit crowding.
  • Create specific seating arrangements at most crowded places like cafeterias, halls, etc.

Compliance With local, Regional Authorities.

Government agencies across the globe have been providing recommendations, regulatory information, guidance, and technical assistance necessary to support the reopening of schools and universities.

Schools and universities across the globe must use proper compliance apps that will check whether or not they are  comply with all regulations to facilitate smooth operations.

Some of the questions you should consider while reopening schools and universities are:
  • Does the government allow all students to return at the same time, or should start dates vary by students’ grade level or specific needs?
  • What are governments’ decisions on classroom spacing or student size?
  • What staff might be available to teach or monitor small groups?

3. Reopening Malls & Cinema Theaters

Entertainment and shopping centers like movie theaters, malls are among the businesses that suffered the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As most of the governments worldwide start to lift their lockdown protocols, plans of reopening business establishments like movie theaters come into play.
These businesses must focus on health and safety measures such as social distancing, healthy hygiene practices, and intensified cleaning, disinfection, and ventilation

Limit Capacity and Showtimes.

As governments start to allow movie theaters and malls to operate, additional health protocols are observed in order for them to remain open. You can achieve this through:
  • Limit the occupancy of theater screening to about 25% to 50% (depending on location and regional governance authorities).
  • Limit the capacity of people visiting malls.
  • Give entry to only fully vaccinated people in malls as well as movie theaters.
  •  Implementing a strict limit capacity and screening time.

 Modify Seating Arrangements.

In conjunction with social distancing guidelines, a staggered seating arrangement can be implemented.
For instance, movie theaters can make a plan to follow this guideline by providing two empty seats between each customer.

In the case of malls, they can modify the seating arrangement through space management apps for cafeterias, public rooms, etc.

Check guests for temperature and symptoms upon entry.

Visitors must be screened before entering the premises. Take note of the signs and symptoms of a person carrying COVID-19.
Temperature checks are commonly used by business establishments.
Despite the virus being asymptomatic, doing temperature checks can mitigate the risk of letting in infected guests.

Intensified Cleaning & Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfecting are integral to the reopening of public spaces as it reduces the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Routine cleaning of surfaces with soap and water should be observed. As well as disinfecting using EPA-approved disinfectant products.
If not available, alternative disinfectants can be used but one should be cautious in mixing chemicals as they can cause fumes that bring harm to public health.
Consider the below points while you are planning for a cleaning and disinfection plan –
  • High-touch surfaces and objects (such as door handles, sink handles, seats, tables, chairs at least once a day or as often as needed (for example, when visibly dirty).
  • Regularly (at least once a day or as often as needed) clean surfaces using soap or detergent.
  • Encourage the use of hand sanitizers to reduce germs on the hands and establish strict hygiene culture .

4. Reopening of Cafes and Restaurants

As a burgeoning number of hotels resume operations as the pandemic slows down, keeping guests and employees healthy and safe has never been more important for hoteliers.
Physical or Social distancing inside and outside the hotel premises should be implemented, and cleanliness is no longer just a quality standard, but a pivotal precautionary measure.
Below are some of the points that businesses must consider for reopening.

Taking Orders, Recording Details, and Making Payments Straight from a Smartphone.

Cafes and restaurants across the world can take advantage of easy-to-use, mobile-centric apps to take orders. This will help you to eliminate unnecessary touchpoints which ultimately can result in reducing the spread of the COVID-19. You can use mobile apps for
  • Record the visitor details like name, mobile number, address, and other information.
  • Customers can use a QR-code scanner app to display the menu and place desired orders.
  • Use QR code scanners to make contactless payments.

Redesign Cafe and Restaurant Design.

If you are planning to reopen cafes and restaurants, it is better to reconsider the existing spaces in areas.

You can achieve this through –

  • Increase the usage of kiosks and come up with numerous ways to order that avoid physical contact as much as possible.
  • Space out tables and install dividers to reinforce physical distancing.
  • Limit customers’ numbers who can dine for a period of time.
  • Redesign indoor spaces into smaller areas.
  • Invest in outdoor seating as it is safer than contained spaces.

Inspect Key Areas

It is crucial for cafe and restaurant owners to ensure the complete safety of their premises prior to reopening.

Conducting daily inspections with inspection checklists of the most important departments is pivotal to securing a healthy environment for their customers and employees.

The following key areas should be inspected prior to cafe or restaurant reopening.
  • Disinfect the dining area and redesign it according to physical and social distancing guidelines.
  • Sanitize all kitchen tools and ensure all staff adheres to hygiene and safety procedures.
  • Check your inventory and look at the expiry dates of all stock items and dispose of them if necessary.

5. Reopening of Public Spaces

Given the highly contagious nature of the SARC-COV-2 virus, it is important for local, national, and international government authorities to enforce stringent deep cleaning and hygiene protocols for securing public places.
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Intensified Cleaning, Disinfection, and Ventilation

As public places across the globe are reopening, we’ll need to think about the regular and deep cleaning of these places.

Deep cleaning checklists help to look at a variety of aspects of the cleaning process in the COVID-19 world and help you to understand what can be done and should be done.

Consider the below-mentioned areas that would require deep cleaning and disinfection to keep organizations safe from containing COVID-19.
  • Deep clean public places like railway stations, airports, museums, etc. using approved disinfectants and digital checklists.
  • Clean bathrooms, breakrooms & kitchens, entryways, and lobbies.
  • Create weekly, monthly, and quarterly clean plans for all this infrastructure.
  • Use advanced technologies like mobile phones, software to take update.

Social Distancing Protocols

Social distancing is one most pivotal options for authorities to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Below are some of the ways that will help public places maintain social distancing.
  • Maintain minimum 2 meters (6 feet) distance between visitors.
  • Divide visitors’ size into more groups (10 or 11 people per group).
  • Limit crowding by putting a capacity limit.
  • Create specific seating arrangements at most crowded places like airports, railway stations, etc.

6. Reopening Industrial Factories

Industries are an integral part of economies across the globe. While repealing, you just not only think about COVID-19 spread but also you need to consider other factors like facilities and engineering aspects. Improper management of facilities may cause serious harm or danger to public health or safety.
Follow the below guide for the proper reopening for industries

Complete Facilities Management

After the reopening one thing, every industry should do is to inspect the most critical facilities. Consider the below parameters for managing facilities.
  • Use facility management software to inspect most critical facilities like HVAC units, assembly lines, assets, fire safety equipment, electric units, plumbing units, etc.
  • Limit facility access only to essential workers.
  • Designate workers to monitor and facilitate distancing on production or assembly line floors.

Floor Management for Social Distancing

To combat the spread of the COVID-19, it is important for organizations to manage floors effectively. Refer to the below guide for managing social distancing for shop floor workers.
  • Use space management app to configure communal work environments so that workers are spaced at least 6 feet apart, if possible
  • Modify the alignment of workstations, including along production or assembly lines, if feasible, so that workers are at least 6 feet apart in all directions (e.g., side-to-side and when facing one another), when possible.
  • Use physical barriers, such as strip curtains, plexiglass or similar materials, or other impermeable dividers or partitions to separate manufacturing workers from each other, if feasible.

Cleaning and Hygiene Maintenance

As industries start to return to work, we’ll need to think about the regular and deep cleaning of our factors. In the industries, it can be achieved in various ways like-
  • Ensure tools are regularly cleaned and disinfected, including at least as often as workers change workstations or move to a new set of tools.
  • Establish protocols and provide supplies to increase the frequency of sanitization in work and common spaces.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces in workspaces and break rooms (e.g., microwave and refrigerator handle, vending machine touchpads, knobs, levels, and sink handles) at least once per shift, if possible.

Screening and Monitoring Workers

Workplaces, particularly in regions COVID-19 cases are growing, should consider developing and implementing a comprehensive screening and monitoring strategy.
This will help them to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 into the worksite.
Options to screen workers for COVID-19 symptoms include:
  • Screen before entry into the plant.
  • Record all workers’ symptoms to determine whether workers have had symptoms including a cough or shortness of breath, or at least two of these: fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell. in the past 24 hours.
  • Check temperatures of workers at the start of each shift to identify anyone with a fever of 100.4°F or greater (or reported feelings of feverishness).

7. Reopening Airports

As the COVID-19 pandemic is showing the sign of relief across the globe, several government agencies have allowed international flights. These government authorities suggest that they need to take several measures at airports to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Here is how airport authorities can implement stringent safety measures across airports
  • For the safety of passengers and staff, disinfect trolleys after each use.
  • Make additional seating arrangements within the check-in area for passengers near the check-in counters, security areas, and immigration points.
  • Maintain social distancing across the entire airport.
  • Promote online alternatives such as online ticketing and check-ins over manual methods.
  • Keep complete recordkeeping of passengers like vaccination details, travel history, symptoms.
  • Compliance with local, national, and international guidelines.
  • Checklists of cleaning and hygiene maintenance across facilities like desks, chairs, elevators, railings, trolleys, handles, trays, and baggage belts inside the terminals, etc.

The Bottom Line

With the above checklists in hand, we are sure you can reopen your business successfully no matter what industry you work in!
However, for successful execution, you will have to equip yourself with digital technologies.

At Axonator, we have developed numerous COVID-19 related apps such as self-declaration apps, employee screening apps, contact tracing apps, payment apps, QR-code checklists apps that will help you to reopen business successfully.

Don’t forget to join us in our webinar on reopening for businesses in the post-COVID-19 world. 

 

You can register for the webinar here!

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