• Back to Business: Reopening Responsibly

  • As the pandemic stretches, we’re in that strange transition phase when you’re weighing how and when to resume business operations, responsibly.

    These are unfamiliar times and solutions are far from clear — particularly for those of us who care deeply about the safety and well-being of our staff, customers and communities.

    How do you resume operations in a way that helps your community and minimizes harm?

    In this post, we’ll cover considerations for safety and considerations for customer experiences, based on recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and market researchers. We’ll also link to supporting resources throughout.

    Should you reopen now?

    According to the CDC, you should only reopen if you can answer “yes” to both questions below:

    • Will you be in compliance with applicable state and local orders?
    • Are you ready to protect employees at higher risk for severe illness?

    If yes, you may proceed if:

    • You’re implementing recommended health and safety actions, including intensified cleaning, disinfection, ventilation, face coverings, employee training on health and safety protocols, and more.
    • You’ll conduct ongoing monitoring, including procedures to check for COVID-19 symptoms of employees daily, and planning for sickness.

    (Here’s an expanded PDF checklist of this decision tree.)

    How do I prepare my workplace to open?

    We’ve touched on some of action steps above, but let’s dig a bit deeper.

    The CDC, OSHA and HHS recommend the following:

    • Develop an infectious disease preparedness and response plan.
    • Implement basic infection prevention measures.
    • Develop policies and procedures for prompt identification and isolation of sick people.
    • Develop, implement and communicate workplace flexibilities and protections for employees.
    • Implement controls for workplace hazards. It’s best to remove hazards systematically than to rely on workers to reduce their exposure.

    That’s a lot, we know. You can read each of these recommendations in detail here.

    Altogether, it comes down to anticipating all that could go wrong, taking measures to minimize or eliminate risks, and having a plan to respond to worst-case scenarios.

    How do I improve customer experiences and loyalty, now and post-pandemic?

    We’re going through a collective trauma that’s changing consumer behavior and expectations considerably. McKinsey researchers recommend the following actions to address immediate customer needs and prepare for the future:

    Gartner, another global research firm, offers the following advice for marketing to anxious customers:

    • Emphasize values that matter most to your customers.
    • Provide products/services that hearten people in times of panic.
    • Avoid the temptation to bombard consumers with information.
    • Avoid inadvertently exploiting the vulnerable.

    How do I increase monitoring and communications capabilities without a major investment?

    One way the pandemic has changed our world is our increased reliance on remote access and automations to operate our businesses and keep people safe.

    Given our expertise as technology integrators, we’d be remiss not to mention potential integrations of systems you already own as a way to magnify their capabilities and add more layers of protection and efficiency.

    When technology systems “talk” with one another — say, your security cameras communicate with your emergency notifications, or fire alarms communicate with your smartphones and first responders — you’re better able to detect threats and respond quickly, without having to have people on site, or requiring a series of manual tasks.

    Outside of emergency scenarios, integrations also enable you to communicate with staff, visitors, customers and partners more efficiently, regardless of their location. (We expand on potential, non-emergency applications here.)

    You may not realize the variety of systems you can integrate, regardless of their manufacturer, as our illustration shows:


    (Click image for PDF format.)

    The post-pandemic marketplace will be a different one, for sure. Your focus on safety, communications, and ability to run operations remotely will be critical to your financial health and ability to fulfill your mission.