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What Now?

How to Reopen Your Business In The Wake of Covid-19

The coronavirus crisis changed the business landscape for good.

In a matter of weeks, remote working leapt from 7% to 88%, businesses were forced to rewrite entire processes and some companies even closed down permanently.

Unfortunately, the rollercoaster isn’t over.

After an intense few months, businesses are now tasked with reopening their doors at an unprecedented rate as lockdown relaxes. It’s not as easy as going back to business as usual—the rules have shifted and our ‘new normal’ is anything but predictable.

The good news is: It can be done.

In this unmissable ebook, we’ll show you how to navigate your business through uncertain times, support your employees and regain your momentum as you settle into the new normal.

Let’s do this!

What you need to know before you reopen your business

A successful reopening is all about planning your moves carefully—and in order to navigate the new landscape, you need to understand it first.

After a solid few months of corona-related data, we’ve spotted some emerging trends (to add to the still-relevant HR trends in 2020). Here are some emerging facts to help you figure out what the new normal will look like for your business:

  • Employees want flexible working: According to a Gartner study, organizations should expect around 75% of employees to ask to expand their remote work hours by up to 35%.
  • Mental health issues are on the rise: Nearly half of US citizens say the coronavirus crisis has impacted their mental health negatively—your workers need your support.
  • Health and safety precautions are everything: Social distancing, hand sanitizer and face masks are becoming the norm for major businesses across the US.

In other words: Reopening your business is all about doubling down on the human side of HR and doing everything you can to support your employees.

Now it’s time to figure out how to reopen your business. This step-by-step guide will help you nail it.

Step 1: Get your health and safety paperwork in order

All great HR pros know paperwork is everything. Because plans, policies and protocols not only help you survive—they ensure that you thrive.

And to keep your employees safe when you reopen your business, you’ll need to check every box, from health and safety plans to covid-specific risk assessments.

Here are the top guidelines you need for a safe reopening

Risk assessments

Adjust old risk assessments based on the new normal. Will your fire safety point allow for social distancing? Do your first aiders need new training? Scrutinize every point based on the health and safety checklist below.

Covid-19 communications

Create an employee comms strategy to keep everyone in the loop about how things will work before, during and after your reopening. Even if nothing changes, the connection will help them feel part of the team.

Health and safety guidelines

During a global health scare your employees need to know how you plan to keep them safe. Here’s a quick checklist of the top H&S rules:

  • Max out on the hand sanitizer: The rule is: you can never have enough. Create specific hand sanitizing stations, and if necessary think about other PPE like face masks and gloves.
  • Break the 9-5: Remote working, flex-time and staggered shifts are all part of the new normal. Implement new flexible working patterns to ensure everyone’s safety, always.
  • No personal contact: Think: No handshaking or hugging, and limited meeting sizes.
  • No item sharing: To limit potential contact, employees need their own equipment. That means pens, staplers, notebooks, desk space and computers. If employees need to share items like printers, make sure there’s a strict post-use cleaning process.
  • Check the floor plan: As the employer, it’s your job to enforce social distancing within the workplace so there’s a min of 6ft between all employees, customers and visitors.
  • Remove common areas: Gone are the days of gathering at the water cooler (for now). Include social distancing protocols in social areas too.

Before you reopen your business

Create new risk assessments, health and safety procedures and a series of communications to keep your employees up to date.

Step #2: Protect and support employee mental health

There’s no denying coronavirus has affected the nation’s mental health.

In fact, a federal government mental health hotline registered a 1K+% increase in April compared with the same time last year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with one in four US citizens stating the pandemic has adversely affected their mental health.

HR plays a frontline role in supporting employee mental health, and teams have been working around the clock to offer guidance in this strange time.

Here’s what you can do to ensure mental health 101 when you reopen your business

  • Monitor employee wellbeing: Your employees need you now more than ever. Create a safe environment where employees can share their thoughts and worries—either during 1:1s, in groups or with a professional—and create a list of local mental health organizations to offer up if needed.
  • Continue to live out your company culture: Working from home can be lonely. That’s why your biz culture is more important now than ever before. Think: distance team meetings, reward schemes, professional development opportunities and social catch-ups. Remember, 54% of employees say a strong sense of community was the main reason they’d stay in a job. Need we say more?
  • Set expectations: Give teams a sense of normal by telling them what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.
  • Communicate: Make sure your employees know they’re being listened to by increasing 1:1s and team meetings—and above all, keep them informed about business plans during this unpredictable time.  
  • Encourage work/life balance: 81% of US workers experienced work-related stress in 2019—and that was before we even heard of Covid-19. Encourage individuals to focus on their work/life balance by setting their own boundaries, like being clear on when they are (and aren’t) available.
  • Talk about mental health: Be open, have conversations and remind your employees it’s good to talk.

Before you reopen your business

Focus on maintaining your awesome company culture, connect with your employees and have a list of support options to offer if anyone’s experiencing mental health challenges.

Step #3: Recruit like you mean it

With a record number of US citizens filing jobless claims, to say that it’s been a tough time for HR departments would be an understatement.

As organizations watched their income plummet and HR teams went from swamped to completely snowed under, it’s no wonder many companies hit the brakes on hiring—but as reopening your business finally becomes a reality, it’s time to pick up where you left off and put the pedal to the metal on growing your biz.

Here’s how to get the most out of your recruitment after reopening

  • Tell the world you're open for business: The world has been closed for so long now that reopening your recruitment seems like a dream. Thing is, your potential new hires feel exactly the same way. Let them know you're back in business and here to help them re-enter the workforce stronger than ever.
  • Help remote employees take part in the process: Not every employee can head straight back to the office. That doesn't mean they need to miss you on choosing the best hires. Use communication tools like Slack, Zoom or the Breezy Team Discussion to connect hiring teams from a distance.
  • Make hiring simple: Hiring doesn’t need to be a headache. Choose the right tools to streamline your process, save time and energy, and make life easier for everyone. (Psst! We can think of one tool that does all that and more).

Before you reopen your business

Tell the world about your new roles and make life simpler with a super intuitive hiring tool.

Step #4: Recognize the new normal

Not every employee can head straight back to work.

Whether because of health and safety working restrictions, an employee’s own health issues, or because your state is taking it slow, there are a million and one reasons why your business is likely to experience a shift in working options.

And you’re not alone. In fact, 74% of companies plan to permanently shift to more remote work post COVID.

Create a resilient work culture for good

It’s time to recognize that the new normal = new work patterns. Here’s how to ace the shift:

Enable remote and flexible working options

Avoid reactionary offers and choose the work options that are best for your company. Whether it’s remote, flex-time or staggered shifts, take time to plan exactly what will work and how.

Create a work from home protocol

According to an OWL study, employees who received a Work From Home Protocol during the Covid-19 pandemic were over 2X more likely to feel totally prepared. If you haven’t got one already, create a WFHP to spell out exactly how remote working should roll. Remember to include:

  • A list of your remote working tools and how to use them.
  • Advice on how often employees should connect.
  • Full info on how your biz is staying on track.
  • Health and safety advice to support employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.

Continue to encourage virtual collaboration and engagement

From Zoom’s leap in demand to Slack’s insane user growth there’s clearly a place in our hearts for tech, post-Covid-19. During lockdown, awesome new online communities sprang up showing our love for virtual collaboration (hello #WFHfam 😍). As you rock your business reopening, remember to encourage the little things that kept us all going during a tough time.

Before you reopen your business

Think carefully about the working options you want to offer and create the policies to match. And remember the little things to connect your employees no matter when/where they work.

Step #5: Plan for the future

From brick-and-mortar shut-downs to procedural overhauls, 2020 showed us anything can happen—and businesses need to become fully resilient to prepare for every obstacle.

But it’s easier said than done.  

In fact, according to a 2019 Glassdoor report, only 2% of teams are resilient.

So, before you reopen your business, it’s time to answer the million-dollar question...

How do I make my business more resilient?

  • Invest in your workforce (and a great ATS): First step to resilience is hiring resilient employees. An all-in-one ATS can help you hire top talent and pinpoint the candidates with the skills you need for a resilient workforce.
  • Get everyone on the same page: An awesome company culture starts with your values. Employees should be aware of and share your values so they understand how to approach obstacles as a team.
  • Choose your tools wisely: If the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that reliance on tech is a 21st century reality. Take time to choose tools that work for you, and make sure your teams know how to use them.

Before you reopen your business

Take a look at your hiring process, company culture and HR toolkit to make sure your systems are airtight.

Reposition your business for long-term success

As lockdown relaxes and we face the ‘new normal’, it’s time to rally the teams once again as you work out how to reopen your business.

From knuckling down on remote recruitment to supporting employee mental health, the key to a successful reopening is to ensure business runs as usual—despite everything being unusual.

But the forecast is good.

Because over the past few weeks, HR pros on the frontline have shown their grit, and in true #HRtogether style this is one more challenge the business community will overcome as a team—and not only survive, but thrive.

Are you ready?

Need help acing your reopening?

Hiring the right people is crucial. Sign up for a free trial of Breezy today!

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