Preparing for post-lockdown now is essential if you want your business to hit the ground running out of lockdown – which may be sooner than you think.
The Government has said that it will begin opening up sections of the economy when science says it is safe to do so. We are already seeing infection and death rates fall. If rates continue as they are, phase 3 of the lockdown (which would allow people to return to work, and pubs and gyms to reopen) could be achieved by July.
This is exciting, but it also presents a challenge – how can businesses prepare for post-lockdown? Are there any practical steps that can be taken?
Here are our top tips to prepare and ready yourself for opening your doors once again:
1. Commercial contracts
If your business has commercial contracts then now is the time to review them and assess if any changes are needed in relation to COVID-19.
You may find that your commercial contracts need renegotiating to reflect operational changes in your business, or your supplier’s, as a result of the coronavirus. Your contracts could need new legal definitions to protect your interests, or, they could now be out of date in which case you should open communication now.
We recommend identifying your top customers and starting with these. This will give you a clear plan of action and prioritise your biggest earners.
COVID-19 has brought about a need for businesses to closely scrutinise their insurance policies with regards to pandemics and disease. This is critical to make sure your business is covered when you open up shop post-lockdown.
However, because COVID-19-related claims on insurance vary by individual case, you will need to seek specific guidance on your policy.
We recommend speaking with your insurer as soon as possible for clarity on the aspects of your insurance that protect the critical aspects of your operation.
Depending on your business, you could have business interruption insurance, public liability insurance and employer’s liability insurance. COVID-19 could affect aspects of your cover, in which case you need to know about them now.
3. Utility bills
By the time lockdown is lifted, for many businesses several months will have passed and contracts with utility companies will be running down. Now is as good a time as any then to review your contracts and compare prices.
The one thing you don’t want to do is let your contract renew itself without negotiating another contract with your supplier. This could lead to you being put on an out of contract rate, which could cost up to 40% more per kWh.
If you can get a competitive deal with your current supplier, then by all means renew, but most businesses will save money by switching with EnergyBillKill. We have scrapped all fees during lockdown and are passing these savings onto you.
Broadband and phone
It is criminal that telecoms companies often charge existing customers more on renewal than new customers, but they do, and because of this, it is nearly always the case that better deals can be found on comparison sites.
If your broadband and phone package is due to run out during lockdown or during a predicted stage of post-lockdown, we recommend comparing prices now and seeing how much you could save. It could be hundreds of pounds.
4. Staff, workers, and teams
Your employees and workers have probably had a torrid time with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19. We’re all in the same boat.
Right now, you should communicate with your workers and help them understand what scenarios could play out over the next few months. Your staff will appreciate reassurance and honesty on their value to you and your company.
Showing kindness and understanding is important to manage the human side of the pandemic, but you also have to get your employment contracts in order to protect your business from potential labour shortages and illness. You may also want to restructure your people and improve their ability to work from home.
5. Team building and mental health
When workers begin returning to work, be in no doubt that it will take some time for everyone to reach pre-coronavirus levels of productivity. You should also keep in mind that people may feel down. They have been cooped up, after all.
It is a good idea to communicate with your teams now, openly, and provide weekly updates about returning to work.
Try to keep your workers in the loop and make sure you set out the steps that you plan to take to keep them safe. You might also like to ask for their input on these steps, since it is a process they will take part in. This will go some way to reassuring your workers that it is safe to return to work. Motivation and reassurance are key.
6. Health and safety
As businesses return to work, the number one priority will be to protect staff and control rates of infection within the workplace. Planning now will enable you to roll out health and safety measures quickly and get people back to work sooner.
Practical measures could include:
- 2 metre social distancing
- Face masks to be worn in the workplace
- Soap in staff toilets and kitchens
- Hand sanitizer gels in every room
- Tissues and dedicated waste bins in every room
- Signage to remind people to wash their hands and use sanitizer gel
For fleets, drivers can be given rubber disposable gloves, face masks and sanitizer gel. Social distancing should also be enforced whenever possible.
There has also been some talk about workplace coronavirus testing – however, for many businesses this would be infeasible. It is more practical to have a robust illness policy that keeps people at home if they develop a cough or temperature. Businesses should also insist that all workers who feel poorly get tested for the coronavirus.