As attention turns to gradually resuming the economy, many business owners are looking for ways to reopen that are safe for both their employees and customers.
When it comes to customers, there are a few strategies that brick-and-mortar shops can take to ensure their safety. These include limiting the number of shoppers allowed in the store, designating aisles for one-way traffic, and placing partitions between customers and workers.
As for employees, keeping sick workers at home is the first line of defense. Take tea shop Tiesta Tea, for example, where managers monitor their employees’ health by taking their temperatures before each shift.
Providing cleaning supplies for sanitizing their individual workstations is also essential, but what’s particularly important is to make workers feel like they are supported. Tiesta Tea’s co-founders have done this by telling the staff early on that they should stay home if they have any reason to suspect they’ve contracted the virus — and that they’ll still be paid.
Other precautionary measures may involve small refurbishments in the work environment. These can include replacing doorknobs with hooks so workers can open doors with their forearms. What could also work is placing colorful stickers next to often-touched areas such as light switches and buttons, to heighten awareness of those places.
While there is no company rulebook for a pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued several sets of recommendations for dealing with COVID-19 in recent weeks. Among them:
- Discourage workers from using other workers’ office supplies.
- Provide workers with the necessary sanitary supplies to keep their working stations clean.
- Install high-efficiency air filters and increase ventilation.
- Have a plan for immediately isolating employees or customers who become sick in your workplace.
- Create additional space for customers. For retailers, this might mean adding drive-throughs.
- Provide digital alternatives to any physical events as much as possible, both internally and externally.
- Establish alternating workdays or extra shifts that reduce the total number of employees in a facility at a given time.
- Discontinue nonessential travel to locations with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks.