Following the Prime Minister’s statement that non-essential businesses can start to open from 15th June if it is safe to do so, many businesses have been wondering: is it safe for me to re-open yet?
Not only do you need to think about your own safety, but that of your employees and customers too, meaning that you’ll have to be sure you can operate safely before opening your doors.
The government has been working with professional bodies across different industries to create a set of specific guidelines on how businesses can approach re-opening as the lockdown eases. Using these guides and other official advice that’s been released, we’ve summed up whether or not you should start preparing to open your business – and, most importantly, how to do so safely.
Are You on the Government’s List of Businesses Able to Open?
In Prime Minister Johnson’s own words, it’s ‘no single leap to freedom’, and there are still some restrictions on what kinds of business are able to open to the public, and which ones aren’t.
The government has published a list of businesses that should remain closed for now, with guidance on exceptions. Businesses on this list include:
• Restaurants, pubs, canteens and cafés – food delivery and takeaway can remain operational
• Hairdressers, barbers, beauty and nail salons, including piercing and tattoo parlours
• All retailers except those exempt – collection and deliveries can remain operational
• Holiday accommodation and caravan parks
• Community centres
• Places of worship
• Indoor fitness centres
This is not an extensive list and doesn’t cover all exceptions. Please see the official government list here and check advice for your industry.
Can You Work from Home?
Or can your business operate with a team that’s fully working from home? In all of the government’s new guidelines, no matter what industry, the advice is to work from home where possible.
If not, try and make sure as many people as possible are working from home for your business to be operational and plan for the number of people you will have in. But more about social distancing in the next part of this blog!
Managing Employees Working from Home
Whilst your team is fully or partially working remotely, it’s important to keep up regular communications with them to keep them motivated and to make sure everyone’s okay. This will also keep the whole team on track and working towards your business goals.
Daily or weekly video meetings are a great way to check up on members of your team and give them a chance to ask questions about the task at hand.
Furlough and Training
If it would be unsafe to bring the whole team in, this might prevent your business from opening. If you’re using the government’s furlough scheme, you can still encourage your team to take part in training so that you’re upskilling them and therefore benefiting both their personal development and your business in the long run, even if you’re having to put a pause on work.
Can You Implement a Social Distancing Strategy in Your Workplace?
Lockdown may be easing, but social distancing is set to be a long-term measure in preventing the spread of Coronavirus in the UK.
That means you’ll need to take extra precautions to ensure your staff, customers and visitors are all following the correct procedure, and that it’s possible for them to do so.
Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself when setting out a social distancing strategy at work.
Can people keep 2 metres apart?
There are a few different approaches you might take to this. In their guidelines, the Government give a series of steps that would usually need to be taken, including:
• Defining the number of customers that can reasonably follow a 2 metres social distancing within your store
• Suspending or reducing customer services that cannot be undertaken without breaking social distancing guidelines
• Working in fixed pairs for jobs that need more than one person to limit the number of people in direct contact with each other
• Introducing queue management or a one-way flow to reduce congestion and contact points
• Managing outside queues with staff directing customers or barriers
See the full guidelines on this here.
Can you work in other people’s homes safely?
If your line of work involves working in other people’s home, this can present other challenges, but it’s definitely possible to do this safely too.
Make sure you agree with the person whose house you’re working in that they understand social distancing and any measure you’ll be implementing before you get there. An email or a flyer works like a treat!
Clear signage is a fantastic way to communicate your social distancing strategy. Encouraging customers and staff with floor stickers, keep your distance posters and by limiting the number of people in an area at one time are all key ways to do this. For more extensive guidance, please see this guidance on how to create a social distancing strategy in the workplace.
Do You Have the Right Health & Safety Signage?
The thing with viruses like COVID019 is that they spread through airborne particles whenever someone who’s infected sneezes or coughs – meaning that there’s an extra risk around frequently touched surfaces, like desks and door handles.
Social distancing protects against the actual act of coughing or sneezing, but high hygiene standards are what’ll make the biggest difference when it comes to these surfaces.
Here are a few top hygiene tips the hygiene tips in the latest NHS advice:
• When available, use hand sanitiser
• Wash your hands frequently using soap and water
• Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
• Only travel when necessary
So, exactly what does the Government recommend for making sure everyone follows the right health and safety procedures? Simply this: clear signage.
From hand wash and hand rub reminder and instruction posters to temperature testing station banners, we’ve created a whole range of Coronavirus safety signage (with free designs!) so you have a definitive list of everything your business needs ready to re-open – we’ve even split it by industry so you can just pick what’s right for you.
Are You or Is Anyone in Your Household Showing Symptoms?
It goes without saying, if you’re experiencing symptoms of Coronavirus, you should stay at home and isolate yourself for 7 days from showing symptoms to prevent the spread of the virus. But, you should also stay at home if someone in your household has symptoms as well, for 14 days from their symptoms showing.
Remind employees not to come into work if they’re displaying symptoms over email and reinforce the message by having signs with this messaging on them at the entrance to your building.
If you’re working in other people’s homes, make sure to check whether anyone in that household has been experiencing symptoms and don’t enter their house if they have.
Can You Run a Delivery Service Instead?
Just like how cafés and restaurants are only open for delivery and takeaway services, think about how you could apply this to your business. From florist deliveries to cake-away services, loads of businesses are adapting their services to fit the current guidelines.
We recommend sending out flyers to advertise your new services and to let people know how they can place an order with you – not only are they cheap, but they’re also a quick and easy way to get news about your business out quickly in your local area, which is where the majority of your customers will be for delivery services.
For more advice on how to make sure you’re opening your business safely and tips on getting the most from your safety signs, get in touch with our team for a free video consultation now.