Businesses: 20 Questions Before Reopening

Many businesses have opted for WFH until the end of the year. But for those of us who are getting ready to reopen, let's build a plan.


Ben Pugh

May 20, 2020

States have started partial reopening as early as last week. DC has tentative plans to reopen on June 8th. While we are all dreaming of returning back to the "golden days", the truth is we will need to start ramping up plans for the new reality.

We organized important topics to have clear plans for. We identified four major categories, but it will differ uniquely for each business:

  1. Ramping Up My Staff
  2. Transforming My Location
  3. Reintroducing My Customer
  4. Contingency: Risk of Reclosing

If you think we missed something, let us know!

Ramping Up My Staff

Throughout this journey, the top-of-mind for all of us has been our people. Our frontline and essential workers, and soon to be rejoined by the full staff. It's important to have plans in place around keeping your staff safe. Here's a checklist for preparing our people:

New Traning:

  1. Is every single employee familiar with the CDC best practices for COVID19? This is easy to assume since it's been often referenced in the news, but a level deeper understanding is necessary for every worker who has to interact in a shared public space.
  2. Does every single employee have access to necessary protective equipement? Adequate supply of masks, gloves, and other protective gear is crucial.
  3. Does every staff member know how to get access to COVID19 testing? Near work and especially near their home.

New Policies:

  1. Do you have a clear policy in place for staying at home with symptoms? Do you have a clear policy in place if a staff member develops symptoms during the day? All absentee policies will need to be reviewed and refreshed
  2. Do you have clear protocol if a customer or another on-site person is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms?
  3. Do you have established communication channels from staff-to-manager-to-owner? Can concerns quickly be escalated?
  4. Do you have an established "buddy system" where workers check up on each other if they are absent? This adds an extra layer of support for shift managers who are handling a large staff.
  5. Do you have well-documented staff hours that can be used for contact tracing? If you are notified that a customer from last Tuesday at 3:30pm tested positive for covid19, can you quickly identify every staff member who was on shift?
  6. Do you have a plan to handle interviewing and hiring? Many companies are switching to phone or video interviews until the final decision is made.

Transforming My Location

Physical locations will need to change too-- for some businesses this will be as simple modifications to office space, for other businesses, it can mean fundamentally changing a restaurant

  1. High-level: does your existing space still meet your businesses needs? Can you modifity your location or do you need to explore relocating?
  2. For stores and restaurants: Are you making adequate physical modifications to your location so that customers and workers are able to keep a reasonable distance between eachother?
  3. For office space: can you downsize your office space because some positions have become permanently remote? Can you install physical barriers that help ensure social distancing takes place?
  4. Can you increase your cleaning / sanitation efforts? More frequent cleanings, additional disinfectant products available to each worker, and other sanitization stations.
  5. Do you have adequate supply of protective gear on-site? Is it available for both your staff and your customers?
  6. Are you modifying your facility to better handle "drop-off" and "pick-up" for essential vendors and partners?

Reintroducing My Customer

If you are reopening for the first time in months, you will need to make sure you invest in signage that helps reintroduce your customer to the new ways of doing business:

  1. Are you offering new ways of serving your customer? Drop-off and pick-up options have become common for food establishments, video conferences have become common for doctor's offices. Even with a reopening, many customers will still be concerned about practicing social distancing.
  2. Do you have clear door and/or window signs that inform customers and vendors of your new policies? Drop-off, pick-up, and delivery signs are most important
  3. Do your customers feel safe around other customers? This one is easy to overlook-- if a customer feels overcrowded, or that they are risking getting exposed to covid19, they might avoid your business all together.

Risk of Reclosing

Even if we are excited to reopen, there is always the risk of a future shelter-in-place order. Our hope is that we can use lessons from the last time to help us better prepare for a future shutdown.

  1. Do you have plans for a future shutdown? What does this look like for your staff? What does this look like for your customers?
  2. What is your internal criteria for reclosing and your internal criteria for reopening? Staff is often anxious and the more transparency around this topic the better
  3. If you have multiple locations, how will policies and procedures be coordinated among different locations? Some businesses benefit from a central policy while sometimes a location-by-location basis makes more sense for the business

There are more topics to think about beyond those just listed here: how do you modify your supply chain, your financial planning, and many other business-specific needs. If you think we missed something, please share with our team!



Ben Pugh

Founder & CEO, RelayCare

Ben is a mathematician and self-taught full-stack software engineer.