American communities are getting ready to reopen for business, but before doing so, extra precautions must be taken to ensure the safety of your guests, tenants, and employees.
Before setting a return date, assign a cross-functional team to develop a re-entry plan that keeps your employees and building safe. This team, which should consist of representatives from your HR, Legal, Risk Management, Operations, and Safety teams, must reference and follow the guidelines set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and your business’s local and state governments.
In addition to the requirements defined by the CDC and elected officials, your team can use this helpful 3-phase guide to plan your business’s reopening:
PHASE 1 – Prepare your physical workplace
Clean & Disinfect. Hire a professional team, like Cotton Global Disaster Solutions, to properly clean and disinfect your facility. With over 20 years of biological and environmental cleaning experience, Cotton GDS can efficiently and effectively prepare your building for its reopening.
Reconfigure the space. Social distancing protocols should still be enforced to protect the well-being of your employees. Before everyone returns to the office, ensure that each workspace complies with social distancing protocols. If you find there isn’t enough space (about 6-ft) between seating areas, make the necessary adjustments as soon as possible.
Consider the following:
Pull desks apart from others and create more space between workstations
If separation of desks is not possible, install plexiglass or another non-porous barrier to keep employees shielded
Temporarily close break rooms and common areas
PHASE 2 – Define the re-entry process
Phased Return Approach. You’re now ready to reopen your business and welcome your employees back. But should you allow everyone to return all at once? The answer is up to you and will depend on your specific business needs. However, if you’re considering a more cautious approach, it’s recommended you phase in your workforce by 20% each time.
Another approach is to stagger shifts, so you reduce the number of employees that are in the office at once. Consider dividing employees into Group A and Group B. Have Group A scheduled in the office for the first half of the day and Group B in the latter part of the day.
Every industry is different, with varying hours of operations and number of employees. Choose a re-entry solution that you believe will allow you to serve your clients and partners, without compromising the health of your employees.
Employee Testing & Monitoring. Many companies around the world have installed onsite testing stations to test employees for COVID-19 symptoms. If you’re considering this possibility, in addition to closely following CDC, state and/or local guidelines regarding testing and reopening, you should consider consulting legal counsel to ensure compliance with any applicable laws.
PHASE 3 – Enforce safety
Proper Protocols. So you’ve made arrangements to your workspace and designed your plan for a safe return, now it’s time to open for business. As you take your first step toward normalcy, remember to continue practicing safety, and encourage your employees to do the same.
Place signs around the office reminding everyone to practice social distancing
Provide employees with PPE (face masks, gloves, protective eyewear) if needed
Communicate the importance of regular handwashing
Make hand sanitizers and cleaning wipes easily accessible
Encourage employees to frequently sanitize their desks, keyboards, and other high-touch areas
Remain Vigilant. There is no guarantee that COVID-19 or another pandemic will ever affect our businesses again, but if we remain vigilant and prepare for the unknown, we’ll get through it, together.
The Cotton Team wishes you a triumphant return and a healthy future!