Over the past year, many businesses have had to drastically change the way they operate. As offices were closed down and customers forced to stay at home, businesses needed to find a way to continue to run despite the problems around them. This involved either shutting down the business entirely or transitioning their teams to work from home.
Now, however, it’s starting to become safe again for businesses to re-open. Hopefully, before long, we’ll all be able to have our teams back together in one location safely. But to make that happen, there are some things we need to do to ensure a smooth transition. Below are some tips you can use to return to business as usual after a year of Covid-19.
Choose the Right Time
The most important decision you have to make is the right time to bring everyone back. If you bring everyone back too early, you may not only risk the health of your employees but you may bring people back before everyone is ready for it. Transitioning people back to work after Covid 19 is still possible, you just have to pay extra attention and evaluate their readiness and not just that of your business.
Start by talking to each of your employees and asking them how they feel about coming back to work. If you have a lot of employees, sending out a company-wide survey may help. If a large portion of your employees is uncomfortable about returning to work, you may want to put it off for a few more weeks.
Also, pay attention to any regulations put in place in your area. There may be restrictions about how many people can gather in one indoor area or whether businesses can even re-open yet. It’s obviously important that you choose a time to re-open after you are legally allowed to do so within your area.
Pay Attention to Employee Needs
To get your business back to pre-covid production, you’ll need to pay attention to the needs of your employees. Your employees will have different needs now to help them perform their best work. For example, even if most of your employees can come back, some may need to continue to work from home. You should not only allow this but encourage it to make your employees feel safe.
Your employees may also need additional time off due to Covid-19. For example, they may need time off to get vaccinated or to recover from any side effects of the vaccine. A company-wide policy of providing paid time off for vaccinations would encourage everyone to get the vaccine earlier.
As you’re talking to your employees about when they feel comfortable coming back, also ask what they need to perform their best work in this new environment. Your employees will likely have plenty of suggestions for how you can meet their needs as you return to business as usual.
Provide a Safe Work Environment
Providing a safe work environment is key for returning to business as usual. You may need to make some changes to your office before bringing everyone back. For example, you may need to space out desks to give employees a little more distance between one another. You can also install hand sanitizer stations throughout the office and put up signs encouraging everyone to use them.
Some other things to do include:
- Requiring face masks when indoors
- Improve ventilation by opening windows
- Eliminating large meetings and instead opting for several smaller ones
Providing a safe work environment means enacting new policies and ensuring that everyone follows them. While some of these policies may be an inconvenience, adhering to them will allow you to return to normal operations sooner and help to keep everyone safe.
Think About How Your Customers’ Lives Have Changed
You and your employees are not the only ones who had their lives impacted by Covid-19. To return your business to normal, you also need to think about your customers. You may need to change how you do some things in order to accommodate their needs.
For example, your clients may no longer wish to come to your office for meetings. Instead, you’ll have to continue video conferencing with them or setting up meetings at an outdoor space. You may also have more customers who prefer to online shop rather than come to your store. In this case, you’d want to assign more employees to handle online orders until customers feel safe to visit you again.
Just as you talked to your employees, gather information from your customers as well. See what reservations they have or how their shopping habits have changed over the past year. Send out some surveys, set up a time to talk on the phone, or conduct a focus group. The more you learn from your customers, the better decisions you can make.
Stick with What’s Been Working
Finally, you may have adopted some policies over the past year that it would actually be beneficial to keep in place. For example, maybe some of your employees are just as effective at home as they were in the office. By continuing to allow people to work from home, you not only make those employees happier but you can downsize to a smaller, less expensive office space.
Analyze the strategies you put in place over the past year and how effective they were for you. If you can find an advantage from the forced changes of the previous year, your business will be better for it.
Returning to Business as Usual
While we all may want to return to business as usual, the fact is that this is still a little ways away. However, with some minor adjustments to your previous behavior, you can get your business pretty close in the meantime. Spend some time talking to your customers and employees to learning what it is they need to get closer to the previous normal. Enacting these policies will get you one step closer and if you’re lucky, your business may even come out stronger than ever before.