We know how tough the past few weeks have been for SMEs and with an easing of lockdown rules approaching, getting your business ready for operating in a post-lockdown world has its own unique challenges.

Businesses now have increased obligations and responsibilities – from ensuring adherence to social distancing measures through to implications of furloughed staff and possible use of PPE – businesses now have additional obligations.

There are things that you can do now to ensure you are prepared for the gradual ease of lockdown.

Some of the strategies being considered are:

  • Staggered office starts
  • Reduced hotdesking and equipment sharing
  • Localised restrictions
  • One-way queuing

What will your ‘new normal’ look like?

Some things you may want to start thinking about and planning for include:

  • How will your staff travel safely to work?
    • Those who previously may have operated a car share scheme may need to rethink this.
    • Think about the use of public transport and guidelines for your staff who use it.
    • Can you stagger start times for those who use public transport so they are not traveling during peak times?
  • Will you need to enforce PPE for staff or social distancing measures?
  • What is your plan to unfurlough staff?
  • Do you need to look at restructuring your business?
  • Do you have your supply-chain in place ready to start again?
  • Do you currently operate cashless payments? If not, is this something you can implement?

Some additional sector specific thoughts include:

Retail

  • Will you need to limit the entry and exit points?
  • Will you need to re-stock? Do you hold seasonal or perishable stocks?
  • Will you need markers on the floor?
  • How will you control numbers in your shop?
  • Will you need to rearrange display stands to allow more space or one-way systems?
  • Will you need PPE for your staff?

Pubs/hotels/restaurants/takeaways

  • How will staff work in the kitchen or behind bars?
  • How will you enforce social distancing with customers?
  • With table service, how will you manage payments (contactless only)?
  • Will you be offering a pre-booking service only?
  • How will you manage the pre-booking, is your website etc set up ready for this?
  • Will you need to cater from a reduced menu?

You not only need to think about your business but also about issuing revised social distancing guidance to your staff, not just whilst at work but also in relation to their journey to work. You need to continue to operate a social distancing policy to ensure your staff and clients are safe and protected from the risk of a second outbreak.

What can we learn from lockdown?

We need to look carefully at what we have learnt from this lockdown. We know that coronavirus is here for some time yet and there are risks with any easing of the social distancing rules, that we could potentially see a second spike which could lead to lockdown measures being re-introduced in the future to manage this risk. We may also have been forced to make decisions and implement new ways of working which otherwise may not have been considered, some of which could benefit us in the long-term.

Some things that you need to reflect on:

  • Do you and your staff need to physically present, could working from home now be the ‘new normal’?
  • Could working from home, at least part time, offer a more flexible phased approach?
  • Could working from home prove more efficient, more environmentally friendly, or cheaper?
  • Have any of the reactive decisions forced you to diversify and actually improved your overall offering that you could continue to offer post pandemic?
  • Is your website set up to sell your products remotely if needed once again?
  • Have your finances been up to date and robust enough to react quickly to apply for grants and continually review your cashflow?
  • Can you set up better safety regimes to reduce the impact should we have to re-implement lockdown in the future?

As business advisers, we have been working with clients of all sizes in all sectors to help them to deal with the impact this outbreak has had on their business, whether helping them apply for funding or preparing cashflow plans through to business restructuring to build in resilience into the future business models.

You can download a summary of our returning to work checklist here

If you need advice or help on any of the issues within this article, then do contact us. 

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