June 17, 2020

Best Practices for Complying with COVID-19 Guidelines as You Re-open Your Business

This year has certainly been a trying one for business owners, as they work to not only keep their businesses afloat during unprecedented times of isolation, but also to manage their daily operations in a way that complies with the COVID-19 guidelines and requirements given by the state of Georgia. We know your employees’ safety is your number one priority as you reopen and get back to the usual order of operations, but how can your business comply with all of the rules and provide the services or goods it brings to the community? Read on for ideas on ways your business can stay open while staying safe.

Know the Rules – and Communicate Them

If you want to comply with the rules, you must first know them. You can access a complete copy of the requirements for Georgia businesses here. You can find additional guidelines here. While it may take some time to go through each area and make changes for your business to comply, it is worth the time and effort to ensure the safety of your employees. You can also be fined and even forced to temporarily shutter your business if you are not in compliance with the rules that have been set in place.

Once you are familiar with what your business needs to do, it’s important to communicate those rules and requirements to your employees. You can post a summary in the break room, send out an informative email, ask your team leads to reach out to all team members over the phone, or do whatever it takes to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to review the requirements. This will not only allow your employees to be safe, but it allows your company to run more efficiently as you spend more time on your daily operations and less time answering questions about the info you provide.

It’s important to note that the current set of requirements may change again – the situation is a fluid one, and being flexible will be one of the greatest keys to your success with navigating COVID-19 as a business owner.

Check-In with Your Team – and Give Them Options

You already understand the value of getting to know your team members on both a professional and personal level. This is even more important as you begin to reopen or go back to your normal routine, because you need to know what obstacles your team members are facing. Everything from health concerns to lack of childcare is something you will want to plan for and work around as you strive to meet the demands of the community around you.

It’s impossible to plan for every potential scenario, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be informed. Consider sending a survey to your team members, asking what concerns they have about returning to their jobs. You can make it anonymous if you feel that will encourage more honest answers. This is also a great opportunity for your managers and team leads to reach out to every employee and see what their needs are.

Once you have the information, begin to make a plan. At the end of the day, you’d probably rather have everyone in the office, doing their usual jobs in the usual way. However, as we discussed above, flexibility is necessary if you want your business to keep thriving in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. If it’s feasible for employees to work from home, let them. Establish a way to check in regularly, and ask your managers to give you honest feedback on how successful they feel this strategy is. You can also consider having all employees work from home two days out of the week, while they go into the office three days a week. Or perhaps you can arrange for team members to temporarily share responsibilities until everyone is able to return to their usual duties. Whatever your solution is, keep looking for new ways to give your team options. When everyone is on board, the whole company wins.

Understand the Extra Steps – and Then Take Them

There is a distinct difference between a rule and a recommendation. However, when it comes to health recommendations from the CDC, you should take them seriously. For instance, your business may not be required to have employees wear masks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t encourage it, and even make masks available for those who don’t have one at home. Reminding your team members to wash their hands often, and to stay home if they feel unwell, are other examples of guidelines that won’t be enforced in the traditional sense, but can still be fostered by you an employer.

If you feel that your team members are ready to get back to work with very few concerns, why not take it a step further and find ways to give back to your community? There are multiple organizations in the area that need help providing people with food and other supplies, and your company could make a huge difference. Or you could work with other local businesses to promote frequent handwashing, and encourage community members to abide by the social distancing guidelines that are in place. This is an opportunity for you and your team to work alongside Forsyth County businesses as everyone begins to adjust to the new normal that is, at least for a while, here to stay.

These are unprecedented times, and while there are some rules to guide you, there isn’t a definitive answer for every question that will come your way. Listen your team and your clients, and work together to build on the business you started through innovation and collaboration.

June 17, 2020 Laura Stewart