The decision to reopen businesses is weighing on its leaders. And the decision is just the first challenge. In this moment, conveying an understanding of the concerns held by your customers and employees through your communications and policies is critical to your reopening.
According to What Not to Do When You Reopen Your Business from Inc Magazine, reopening could become a legal minefield for businesses who are attempting to navigate differing state guidelines, an absence of guidance from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and communicating policies in regards to social distancing. What's an important way to avoid this minefield? Be prepared to show you've been proactive in reducing the risk in your organization's facilities.
At Real Thread, we see offering face masks to your employees as one of the best ways to help protect the health of your customers and workforce. But aside from the health benefits, it's a great way to build culture, show appreciation, and strengthen your brand, just like our custom t-shirts do. To purchase face masks for your business, head to our face masks page.
We've compiled some resources to help our readers navigate their own reopening challenges. Check out The Business Reopening Checklist for ensuring employees and customers feel comfortable in your workspace. And if you've made the decision to require face masks for your business, we’ve created a signage template that you can use to politely inform your customers.
Below, you'll find our recommendations on how you can thoughtfully conduct some common policies being enacted.
Temperature checks are one of the most common policies to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There are two very important factors to consider: how to maintain social distancing during temperature checks and what to do when a fever is recorded.
Consider how you can best practice social distancing while employees wait in line. In smaller workspaces where keeping 6 feet apart is not an option, ensure that employees arrive equipped with their personal protective equipment (PPE). The employee taking temperatures should also be adequately protected and prepared to periodically sanitize their station.
These regular temperature checks could also harm your team's morale. Take the steps you need to ensure that the temperature check isn't a stark reminder of the realities of the pandemic. Instead, take the opportunity to ensure the temperature check is a friendly interaction, where the employee is welcomed to work and thanked for their time. Although you can't see the smile behind the mask, a positive attitude can be conveyed through our body language.
Another critical piece of your temperature check policy is what to do when someone does record a fever. Do not simply turn the person away. This could be a fearful and paralyzing moment for those involved. We recommend developing a care package of sorts. Have materials ready to hand over, such as treatment options, information on testing centers, ways to contact HR, and any other support you can offer an employee who will not be able to return for at least fourteen days. Turning an employee away without care could cause them and the team to feel disposable and unappreciated. But taking the extra steps to care for the employee before sending them off will send a powerful message of love and support in a time when so many employees are fearful of losing their support or becoming ill.
Lastly, be sure to check any guidance issued by your state, as many states are issuing guidance to check employee temperatures.
While face masks protect our face, protecting our hands from carrying the virus from surface to surface is just as important. As you've likely learned, increasing the number of locations to use hand sanitizer, wash hands, or put on gloves is another great health policy.
How can we encourage the use of these stations?
First, offer all of the options at all of the locations. Different people will have different preferences as to how they would like to sanitize. Second, make sure the products are not a nuisance to be used. For example, don't use any products with an unpleasant smell, ensure the stations themselves are clean, and have enough stations to keep them a short walk from every desk or work area. Third, find ways to make the experience enjoyable. Consider using products such as flagrant salts or scrubs, snacks, and refreshments. These items will help distract users from worry, encourage regular use, and provide yet another opportunity to let customers and employees know they are appreciated.
In your communications, to both customers and employees, avoid using long equivocations that keep your message from being concise. When communicating these policy changes that are dramatic and sometimes controversial, it is important to be straight-forward and polite. According to COVID-19 Messaging: Dos and Don’ts from AdRoll, any messaging related to COVID-19 needs to be understanding of the realities of the pandemic. You don't want to leave any grey area that is open to interpretation while the health of your employees and patrons is at risk.
Not only do they need to be clear but they need to be very, very easy to find. Keeping a banner at the top of webpages for the latest information related to COVID-19, taping all necessary information on the front door, and even leaving information at the hand washing/sanitation stations we mentioned earlier are all great practices to keep your policies present. Here's an example of signage you can use.
Now that the policy has been made clear and present, making the policy equitable will become easier. Ensure that your entire leadership team thoroughly understands the implemented policies. Unfortunately, one manager disregarding these policies can compromise the entire purpose of the policies. Just like any important policy, there should be no deviation from their enforcement. Consider virtually collecting feedback at the end of each day from your employees on their own experience with the policies. This will help prevent divisions from arising, employee morale from tanking, and customers from becoming worried. Additionally, your employees will have the opportunity to have their voices heard.
Reopening is a large undertaking that when done with caution and care, can unlock a fruitful new chapter for your organization. To do so, we must approach the task with extraordinary care and discipline as we earn the trust of the employees and communities involved.
If you'd like to provide your team with comfortable and effective face masks, we've got you covered. Visit our face masks page to start an order of custom branded face masks or to purchase a set of blank ones. As always, we're here to help you navigate the process. Start a live chat with us or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.