Post-lockdown: A 5-day plan to reopening your business

Post-lockdown: A 5-day plan to reopening your business

Entrepreneurship

Shao Yong Chew

Shao Yong Chew

20 May 2020, 10:30 — 12 min read

As many countries around the world are looking to responsibly reopen their economies, many business owners are looking forward to reopening their businesses after months of long lockdowns (or enhanced quarantines).


We’ve taken a look at how businesses bounced back after natural disasters: hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes. Business owners and their staff were prevented from entering their premises for months due to the danger of these natural disasters. We’ve picked out some of the best practices and necessary steps that we can learn from and apply to our current situation.


Day 0: A day before the lockdown lifts: Communicate. Communicate Communicate

Do a physical audit of your entire workforce and gather the following data:

  1. When will they be able to travel back to work? Many workers might have left the city or state due to the lockdown.
  2. Check out if your team has been in contact with any known cases of COVID-19 in the last 14 days. This includes family members that they have been staying with.


For team members who have been in contact with COVID-19 cases, you might want to extend their quarantine to be sure.


Day 1: Declare a day off. Don’t let your staff go back to work

It seems counter intuitive to not get back to normal immediately. However, remember when lockdowns were introduced? There was an immediate exodus to leave the affected areas. People desperately got on flights, trains and buses to get back to their families and loved ones.


When the lockdown lifts, there will be a reverse influx of people wanting to get back to normalcy. In Wuhan, when the travel ban was lifted, long lines formed outside the train stations as people rushed to get back to normal.
 

This means your team probably won’t be able to get back to your office within the first day as they would be stuck in long travel lines or not be able to get transport at all. Even for those who are still in the city or state, once the lockdown lifts, they would have other priorities such as checking up on loved ones or handling physical tasks such as ensuring there are childcare options for their children.


During this time of change and confusion, having a united message of empathy by giving everyone a day off to reorient themselves and allow them to get their personal affairs in order. This ensures that your staff will be able to come back to work secure and without worries about their personal challenges at home.


However, (if possible) your management team should visit the office on the first day probably in the afternoon. The first day is not to do any work but to do an audit of your office condition and formulate a plan for the next day’s big clean up.

Also read: Work from home – How it can affect others in the family

Day 2: Clean and check your office

Clean your workstations

Turn office cleaning into a team bonding exercise after a few months of quarantines.


It’s been over a month since the lockdown began; expect to see a layer of dust over all your office equipment. In many countries, a lockdown had to be enforced suddenly (within the first day) in order to prevent people from fleeing the affected areas.


This means it is very likely that maintaining a clean office was the last thing on everyone’s minds, so don’t be surprised if there are half-eaten snacks or coffee that are still lying on people’s desks. Trash might not have been cleared as office cleaners were also affected by the lockdown. Also, ever wondered what happens when power is turned off to office refrigerators after a few months? Don’t say we didn’t warn you.


Especially in this pandemic where hygiene is important, it’s important to spend a day to do some major physical spring cleaning.


Check for damages

If you run a factory or have specialized equipment, remember to test and do physical checks on your equipment. A month of not being used can do a lot of damage due to rust or other pests that might have decided to move in and build their homes in your machines that are not running.


Document, document, document

If there are any damages on your equipment or your office building itself, remember to document everything. Take pictures and have a proper reporting system. This will help a lot when filing for insurance claims down the road. It will also ensure that landlords are kept informed of any damages to their property due to the lockdown and not due to negligence on your part.


Note:
For bigger companies, it might take you more than a day to do this step so plan and adjust accordingly.


Day 3: Ensure everyone has a voice on how the business moves forward.

Unfortunately, the lockdown is only one phase in this pandemic. Until a vaccine or cure is found, approved and distributed, we will be living in a world of COVID-19. This requires companies to adapt to this new reality.


According to a report from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses do not reopen following a disaster. On top of that, another 25% fail within one year. The most common mistake: Trying to go back to the way things were before the disaster.


In times of doubt and darkness like these, it is important to celebrate small wins. Celebrate that your team has been resilient and adaptable and has managed to change in these times.


Your staff would most likely want to go back to the way things were and back to their daily routines, it is important for them to know how the business has changed and what the plans are moving forward.


This activity of realigning on the third day is to ensure that employees have an avenue to ask questions and propose solutions. Too often, companies leave this role to their HR manager who has to take care of hundreds of staff, repeating the same answers to the same questions over and over again or not having a consistent message that leads to confusion.
 

This is a simple exercise to allow your company to move forward:


Get your team leaders to run this exercise. Each team should have not more than 10 people (more than that social distancing would make it hard to run the exercise)


For your company (1 hour)

1. Your upper management should have prepared a document about the state of the company for team leads to discuss with their team including:

  1. How much money is coming in and how much is going out?
  2. What are the business plans moving forward? Are there any changes in customers being served? Is there any changes in the products being sold?
  3. What are the company-wide changes that will be in place?


Here are some suggestions to working in the age of COVID-19:

2. Allow team members to ask questions with regards to the bigger picture.

  1. This is a session to collect questions and NOT to answer them. If the team lead doesn’t know the answer, it is okay to admit he doesn’t know.
  2. Provide a simple online form that allows your team leads to collect questions that are being asked, so management can answer all these questions consistently to the company.
  3. Remember at this point to keep the discussion to a company level.

3. Get each team to propose three solutions that upper management might not have considered

  1. Has any of your team noticed a business opportunity that the company can take advantage of in this time?
  2. If your team works in customer facing (e.g Sales, Customer service), are there needs of the customers that management hasn’t considered?


For your individual staff (3 hours)

1. Start this session by getting everyone to share how COVID-19 has affected them personally. Have they lost someone they know to the virus? Do they know someone who lost a job due to the lockdown and are now facing increased financial stress? Are they at risk of losing their house now because their landlord demanded payment?


This session is to get your team to empathize and understand what each other is going through.


Remember! Team bonding is not always about fun and games. We bond when we go through times of crisis together


2. Let your team ask any questions they have to the management


Remember again, the goal is to collect questions so that upper management can answer them in a consistent manner.


For your team (2 hours)

Now that everyone has heard how COVID0-19 has affected the lives of others in the team. How can we come together to help?


1. Reframe how the company’s policies will affect your team directly. Ask your team for feedback or questions.


2. Ask about what practices worked well during the quarantine that they would like to continue.


3. What solutions can the team do on its own to help other team members affected by the virus.


If you need suggestions on how to help your team with their personal challenges or not sure how to address some of their individual challenges, feel free to 
signup for Rumarocket’s Predictive Insights. Our A.I gives your personalized solutions for each one of your staff.


Also read: COVID-19: A change of direction for MSMEs


Day 4: Implement and practice the new practices

It’s finally the time to get back to work! Since the new rules have been communicated clearly on the third day, everyone should know what they need to do. Remember that policies need to be tested, and the best way to work will probably come with lots of iteration and changes.


Day 5: Celebrate small wins

In times of doubt and darkness like these, it is important to celebrate small wins. Celebrate that your team has been resilient and adaptable and has managed to change in these times.


Highlight the achievements of staff that stepped up during this crisis:

  • Your HR manager who spent nights dealing with government agencies to ensure your staff managed to get their salary pay-outs.
  • Your team members who gave up their personal leave days to others who needed it more.
  • Your team managers who took the effort to procure groceries for your staff. Your IT staff that had to onboard and train everyone to use a multitude of programmes in just a week.


Answer frequently asked questions

During this time, it’s good to answer frequently asked questions that were collated on the third day to the entire company so that communication is clear and there is minimal confusion.


Remember to take lots of photos and announce on social media that you are open for business!


Finally: Announce you’re open!

In Wuhan, many businesses still remained closed even after the lockdown as many business owners were waiting for things to return to normal. Don’t take it for granted that your customers know you are open. Announce it to the world!



Rumarocket is an A.I driven company that combines behavioural science and artificial intelligence. 
Our A.I predicts if employees are going to leave or perform in their company and recommends the right actions, incentives, and nudges to each individual talent.

 

Image source: Shutterstock

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Shao Yong Chew

Hi there! We are Rumarocket an Artificial Intelligence company that uses our A.I to solve individual employee challenges! From predicting attrition and recommending ways to help...

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