Blog 5 in the Emerging From COVID-19 series
1. Make a plan
Planning out your reopening should happen before your doors open. There are a lot of different factors impacting how and when your business may reopen, but having a plan will help you identify and address various aspects that may stall or prevent you from reopening. While making a plan, ensure you have alternative plans and flexibility built-in to every step.
It’s important to remember that your plan has room for adaptations and flexibility- state restrictions, employee’s health and other factors could change at any time, so make sure you’re prepared. For some workplaces, it may make sense to send out a survey to employees to gauge comfortability of returning to the workplace, and get a better idea of specific concerns from employees.
2. Stay aware of statewide and local opening guidelines and restrictions
One of the most important aspects of your plan is keeping an eye on federal, state and local guidelines or restrictions about reopening. As more people get vaccinated, these restrictions could begin to change- some states have removed mask mandates entirely, while others (like North Carolina) continue to mandate masks indoors.
You can stay updated on the state restrictions at the NC DHHS COVID-19 resources page. We recommend setting news alerts, and signing up for text or email subscriptions that can immediately notify you with the latest changes in North Carolina.
3. Look at industry specific examples
As we have learned during the pandemic- each industry has varying levels of remote working capability. Differences between industries are becoming more apparent than ever- some workplaces are working remotely permanently, others never had the opportunity to work from home. Monitoring industry standards can help position your company at an advantage- or disadvantage, if done improperly.
To monitor industry guidelines set forth by the state, visit this resource page. To view independent resources, made available by the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the International Economic Development Council visit the reopening by industry page on the restore your economy site.
To remain up to date with reopening practices in your local community, monitor what your competitors are doing, and get in touch with your local chamber of commerce. Find your local chamber here.
4. Make sure you’re communicating
If you want to reopen smoothly, communication is critical. Prepare for questions, comments and adjustment periods.
Make sure you’re communicating with
Internally, make sure employees have copies to your plan, and we recommend putting up appropriate signage, PPE and any other items necessary for your plan. Some offices have used wearable color codes to represent each employee’s comfortability with social distancing, interacting, etc.
If inquiring about your employee’s vaccination status is part of your reopening plan, be sure to reference this guide and ensure you are complying with federal laws to protect your employee’s privacy and rights.
If you have customers regularly come into your workplace, we recommend sending out an email to all customers announcing your opening, update your social media with the news, and update your google listing to reflect your current open status. FAQ’s, infographics and over-communication will serve your organization well through your email, texting, social and other communication channels.
5. Maintain flexibility
This is an obscure time for everyone- and your plan needs to allow space for people to adjust. Remember- safety is the number one priority. Allow employees to work from home if they aren’t feeling well, or if they need to take care of a sick family member. Not everyone will be comfortable right away, and some offices, like ours at Sinclair PA, are transitioning to a hybrid working schedule. We are starting with two days in the office and three days off.
Ultimately, you can plan and prepare for as many scenarios as possible, but ultimately flexibility could be the sink or swim factor to help your reopening plan stay afloat during these transitional times.
If your business needs help navigating communication efforts during this time, our staff at Sinclair Public Affairs is here to help. Contact Sinclair Public Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org