With the COVID-19 crisis still ongoing, social distancing is the order of the day. The CDC has already issued guidelines about safe social distancing, but for a small business, these guidelines may need to be adapted to fit your clientele.
Small companies have suffered immensely during the economic shutdown and shelter-in-place orders, leaving us to figure out how to move forward now that limited reopening is happening. How does a small business do their part to avoid causing another necessary lockdown to control the viral spread? In this article, we’ll explore a few ways small businesses can keep operating and perform social distancing to protect both employees and customers.
Stagger Appointments and Have a Max Number of Customers
If you’re a business that usually operates with walk-ins, it may be a good idea to reconsider your policy, at least temporarily, depending on the nature of your business. For example, if you’re a business specializing in spray tanning, you may already have a studio that offers a lot of privacy and distance between customers.
Walk-ins can bring in new clientele, but there is a significant risk associated with welcoming unlimited clients into the business. Lobbies and waiting rooms have limited space, meaning that as more walk-ins show up, the available space for social distancing decreases. One way to approach this is to institute a strict no-walk-ins policy for as long as the pandemic continues. A less draconian alternative is to suggest a maximum number of persons allowed inside the building. If a walk-in would send the number above the maximum, they would instead be advised to wait outside.
Allow Employees to Work Remotely
Some small businesses don’t have the option to let their employees work from home. In industries where employees have less in-person tasks, working from home should be the “new normal,” at least until a positive resolution to the pandemic arises. NPR notes that the pandemic has shifted many workers to home-based employment.
This choice is the obvious one for businesses who want to preserve the health of both their staff and their customers. With the prevalence of remote work platforms and virtual meeting spaces, many non-physical jobs can now be performed from the comfort and safety of an employee’s home.
Ensure Workstations are Distant Enough
Workers that operate in an interior space should spread their desks to ensure that there’s enough space so that there is less chance of disease transmission. Many companies have also instituted a strict mask policy for employees and customers alike.
By themselves, masks are a decent inhibitor to the spread of COVID-19, but when combined with social distancing, they become even more effective. Since this particular virus spreads with great ease and can remain viable on surfaces for quite a long time, ensuring that desks are distant enough can isolate the incidence of infection.
Close Congregation Areas
Water cooler meetups and open cafeterias are a terrible idea during this time. When you have a massive concentration of workers in a small space, even with masks, the risk of contagion is heightened. Businesses should seek to keep those common gathering areas closed until further notice for everyone’s safety.
Dealing With The Threat
To date, there’s very little word about whether there will be a vaccine for the virus. Several parts of the world have seen resurgences in infection, and the death toll continues to rise. Until society figures out how it will adapt to this challenge, and if the world has to change to survive, small businesses should do their part to keep everyone safe.
Economic lockdowns benefit no one, least of all small and medium enterprises. By ensuring social distancing rules are observed, small businesses provide that they do their part to avoid another crippling economic freeze from a shelter-in-place order.