Tips to help you protect your employees and customers when reopening your business premises
As countries emerge from lockdown across Europe, many businesses are excited to finally be able to reopen their doors to customers and welcome employees back into the office.
But the pandemic isn’t over. And companies should have easy access to guidelines, social distancing tools and other solutions to help with health and safety requirements.
For businesses that have been closed for the last few months, this is completely new territory. And understanding how to apply these measures, or even source the right information, can be confusing.
So here are some practical considerations and a handy list of technologies to make social distancing demands easier on your business and staff.
Practical safety measures
For most businesses, protecting their employees is the top priority and far more than just a legal responsibility.
Risk assessments are a must. And consultations with staff, including sessions in which their needs are heard, are the first important step in guaranteeing a safe and worry-free reopening.
Employees, whether they work on the shop floor, in a workshop, or in your office, are a great source for uncovering possible problem areas and exploring how those risks could be reduced.
While you should always follow the government guidance, there are practical, and in some cases low-cost, measures that are easy to implement and that will help you to reduce the risks for staff and customers alike. For example:
Installing more handwashing/sanitising stations at entrances and in common areas
Promoting more handwashing and surface cleaning, with clear signage and email/text policy updates
Reviewing floor layouts and implementing one-way systems, using floor tape where possible
Staggering employee arrival and leaving times
Encouraging staff to work from home if they can, or on alternate days
Limiting the number of people on your premises at any point and conducting meetings with external suppliers via virtual tools
Calculating the minimum number of staff your business needs to operate and the maximum number of customers that can safely social distance on the premises.
Implementing these measures may seem easy enough for large organisations, but some smaller businesses face the additional challenge of trying to make these work with reduced space, with the added challenge of maintaining them long-term.
Having staff that are 100% dedicated to enforcing these rules can be expensive. It can also be time-consuming for employees who normally cover other roles or are needed elsewhere in the shop, office or factory.
And this is where the right kind technology can really make a difference. You will never be able to substitute a person, but these are important tools to aid the work of those who are keeping staff and customers safe.
Technology’s helping hand
Humans are social animals. And adapting to the new normal, especially as people return to familiar settings where social distancing isn’t second nature, is not going to be a walk in the park.
Mistakes are easily made. Luckily, technology solutions can provide a buffer – they will not forget about social distancing measures! And with modern innovations, this kind of tech doesn’t have to be expensive or intrusive to make a big difference.
Smart cameras and heat-detection cameras:
Most businesses already have some form of CCTV installed to help protect staff and customers. These cameras can be upgraded to smart cameras relatively easily, providing additional security benefits and oversight of where your people are.
Keeping an eye on your work premises with real-time visibility gives you both the control you want at a difficult time, and the flexibility to securely access information on the go.
Heat-detection cameras take this a step further. These allow you to measure the temperature of people entering your premises, which gives you an idea of whether anyone entering may have a fever – an early coronavirus symptom. While not always cost-effective for much smaller businesses with low foot traffic (who may want to invest in a handheld thermometer instead), these cameras are ideal for high traffic areas as they can discreetly check several people at once with minimal staff required. Make sure to choose the right provider, ensuring that your solution is compliant with the current data protection legislation.
Digital signage and contactless tech:
Today, more than ever, being able to rapidly communicate with your staff and customers is essential.
These can be wirelessly installed in places where real-time information is needed. And they can be updated with the latest information, remotely and quickly.
Another way to make the most of the digital opportunities available out there is exclusively offering contactless point of sale payments.
Consumers want to shop as dynamically and securely in store as they do online. The contactless payment threshold may have gone up to £45, but being able to just ask them to tap their phone rather than take out their wallet is another step in the right direction.
Your business is unique
No business is exactly like another. Circumstances and needs can differ hugely and while some shops or enterprises might find reopening really straight-forward, others might struggle.
You may have found that months of (sometimes forced) digital transformation, has helped your business to understand the benefits of remote working. Through these challenging times, people have not seen the drop in productivity that was so feared. As a result, many businesses intend to continue flexible working, allowing their employees to spend more time with their families rather than commuting.
Others, like factories or retail stores, may not have this option. It’s a very personal decision based on many factors. But this crisis has definitely shown that a flexible workforce, able to perform their duties and stay productive wherever they are, makes a business more resilient. And that is a key element of being ready for future disruptions.