OpenWorks has worked hard over the past year to support businesses in their efforts to maintain a safe and healthy workplace through the Coronavirus pandemic. Now, we are proud to begin helping businesses prepare to reopen. As you begin taking the next steps, it’s important to consider all the potential issues and pitfalls of reopening. As a reputable commercial cleaning company, OpenWorks has gathered resources from various experts to help our customers formulate a plan.
Plans will vary according to local regulations. OpenWorks follows local requirements closely and can inform you of any additional steps required in your area. However, all business reopening plans should include four crucial elements.
- Create a Cross-Functional Team
The first step is to appoint leaders across all departments in your business to oversee ongoing reopening efforts. Including at least one person from each team helps avoid conflicts and ensures everyone knows what is expected of them. The roles of this group should include monitoring local and state updates, developing a communication plan for employees and customers, and designating reopening tasks. The team should have regular check-ins to discuss progress and next steps.
- Prepare Your Facility
There are several things to consider when preparing your facility for re-opening. Firstly, you need to understand the needs of your employees and customers. Conducting a survey is a great way to understand their expectations for cleaning, social distancing, and other safeguards.
According to OSHA, employers should also implement engineering controls to isolate employees from workplace related hazards. In the case of COVID-19, measures include:
- Installing high-efficiency air filters.
- Increasing ventilation rates in the work environment.
- Installing physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards.
- Installing a drive-through window for customer service.
- Specialized negative pressure ventilation in some settings, such as for aerosol generating procedures (e.g., airborne infection isolation rooms in healthcare settings and specialized autopsy suites in mortuary settings).
This is also a good time to reevaluate your cleaning and disinfection procedures (or implement some if you haven’t previously had a formalized process. Review the CDC’s guidelines, and research any specific recommendations for your industry or business type. Of course, hiring a facility cleaning service makes cleaning and disinfecting much easier and ensures each surface is treated properly. When exploring your options you should consider the company’s reputation, services, technology, and certifications. Hire a company with experience in your specific industry, because many industries have specific needs. The wrong company may not clean thoroughly and can even cause damage to equipment or surfaces.
It’s important to consider how you’ll keep the physical workspace safe for employees and customers, too. How will you accommodate social distancing? Do you have sufficient PPE, disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and other materials? Planning ahead will prevent any confusion or mishaps on reopening day.
- Prepare the Workforce
Once you have preparations in place for your facility, you need to set policies and procedures regarding who will return to work and when, and communicate them to employees. Many companies are operating under a staged re-opening process with split shifts of remote and in-person work to prevent crowding. You’ll also need to communicate policies on travel, guests, and at-risk groups and caregivers.
In the event of a COVID-19 incident in the workplace, how will employees be expected to communicate? How will you evacuate the office and disinfect? Have a plan in place for what you will do and how long employees will remain out of the office following an incident. A qualified commercial cleaning company will be able to disinfect the space from top to bottom so employees can return safely.
- Prepare Your Customers
Customers will be excited to return to your business, and it’s important to help them do so safely. Continuously monitor local guidelines to maintain compliance. Communicate the steps you are taking and consider adding signage to help customers understand expectations. Employees should also be aware of requirements and what to do if customers aren’t following them.
We are here to support you as you prepare to welcome customers and employees back to your business. We have consulted with numerous experts to ensure we are informed on the best procedures and processes. We want to share this information with our customers to help them achieve a successful reopening.
For a full re-opening checklist compiled from multiple experts including OSHA and the CDC, download our Coronavirus Workplace Readiness and Reopening Guide.
Eric Roudi is CEO of OpenWorks, a national commercial cleaning and facility services provider, headquartered in Phoenix, that helps all kinds of facilities across the country manage their cleaning and disinfecting efforts and reduce the spread of germs.