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For Business Owners: What will Re-Opening Look Like?

Market Watch is among the many covering future business operations as states begin to reopen. Interviewing researchers showed that mass virus and antibody testing, including self-administered tests, is essential moving forward. They shared what the future world of work looks like: staggered schedules, spread-out desks, cubicles in previously open floorplans, visitors having their temperatures taken upon entry, documenting recent travel and more. 

Social Distancing in the Workplace

Companies are expected to opt for digital services and telecommuting as much as possible and in some cases permanently. Businesses that require operations carried out in-office will see vast changes to building layouts to accommodate social distancing guidelines, new signage for hygiene best practices, wearing PPE during shifts, and monitoring temperatures. Those guidelines will, of course, be put forth by federal, state and county officials. 

Things to Keep in Mind for Employees

  • Bring employees back in waves, rather than all returning at once
  • Work staggered shifts and rearrange work environments to allow for distance 
  • Create signage in the workplace to reinforce hygiene and social distancing protocols
  • Offer thorough training for employees on new practices 
  • Bring on additional staff to allow for more hand washing breaks
  • Add designated employees to clean high-traffic areas and surfaces regularly 

Retrofitting Businesses 

Wherever possible, social distancing guidelines are likely to be in full-effect. But for companies operating in small spaces, that may not be an option. In order to best protect employees and customers, businesses will likely need to retrofit their buildings to keep from spreading the virus. The Washington Post caught up with companies in an array of industries who commented on likely changes in the post-pandemic workplace

Short-term, inexpensive changes: 

  • Removing doors/propping them open to keep people from touching handles
  • Signage to help people keep from coming in too close contact
  • Creating one-way traffic routes to keep people from passing each other inside
  • Spacing desks further and roping-off or removing lounge seating or bar areas
  • Openly cleaning work spaces during shifts rather than overnight to ease employees’ worries 
  • Mandating PPE be worn while working on-site and providing masks 
  • Removing as much clutter and unnecessary items from surfaces as possible

Long-term, more expensive changes: 

  • Motion sensors for over-activity rather than under-activity, telling people whether they’re too close to each other
  • Sensors that can alert cleaning staff once someone has vacated a seat, so it can be thoroughly cleaned for the next person 
  • Digital temperature screenings for everyone who enters the building 
  • Replacing surfaces like wood and carpet to withstand harsh cleaning solutions
  • Upgrading technology for automatic doors and touchless payment
  • Finding ways to bring more outside air into buildings rather than recirculating AC systems 
Kroger’s Blueprint for Businesses moving forward also recommends audio messaging to remind customers to maintain social distance and wash their hands frequently and create sanitizer wipe stations to clean frequently-trafficked surfaces. 

In addition to PPE and contactless pickup/delivery models, their guidelines include: 
  • Signs at entrances reading, “STOP if you’re sick, please do not enter the store.”
  • Not accepting returns
  • Plexiglass screens at service counters/checkouts 
  • Floor decals for physical distancing 
  • Discontinued food sampling 
  • Closed self-serve bars and bulk bins 
  • Closed fitting rooms or limited capacity 
  • Queuing customers outside based on building capacity limits
  • Adjusting operating hours for more rest, cleaning and inventory restocking
  • Preparing employees for confrontational customers – stress/fear de-escalation tips 
As we navigate re-opening, it’s important to reassess your business operations, take these ideas into consideration and search for ways to retrofit your building and keep everyone safe.  

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