While much is still unknown about the future in a post-COVID-19 environment, one thing is for sure, everything will be different. After COVID-19 is contained, new legislation will be passed, societal norms will change, and people will act differently than before the virus. We are already seeing this change take place.

One part of society that will undergo heavy change is how people conduct business. The world of business is always evolving, but this evolution is usually gradual. Sometimes, it takes a large scale event, such as a pandemic, to bring forth meaningful change.

There has already been much discussion about how workplace culture will change in the post-COVID-19 world. People will be more “germ-conscious”, sick time will likely be adjusted, and policies will be put in place to mitigate the chances of a large scale pandemic happening again. With many states already choosing dates to reopen, your business should have a plan in place to ensure a smooth transition when moving back to being fully operational. Here are a few measures that you should consider while thinking about how to reopen your retail business.

  1. Update Your Workplace Handbook
  2. Invest In Improving Your “Non-Physical Presence”
  3. Emphasize Employee Wellness Initiatives
  4. Plan for Every Possible Scenario and Outcome

1. Update Your Workplace Handbook

As your company gears up to return to the workplace, it likely will feel much different than before the rise of COVID-19. People will be more mindful of touching, space, germs, and their general health and wellness. You as a business owner must be more mindful of these things as well. Depending on how soon your business reopens, your employees may not be entirely comfortable with being surrounded by people yet. Try to gauge your employees’ feelings on returning to the workplace, and what health precautions they would like to take. When fielding their requests, try to update the current employee handbook to include their preferences.

When talking with your employees, try to be transparent and open-minded to their responses. If you show some compassion, your employees will likely be more honest and upfront about their feelings. To make sure that you get honest feedback, we recommend that you make a survey that your employees can fill out anonymously.

Create an in-depth survey that will help flesh out your new employee guidelines. Consider including the following questions:

  • Do you still feel comfortable having complimentary food in public locations?
  • Should we establish more break rooms?
  • Would you like to keep a plexiglass shield up between the customer cashier permanently?
  • Should we adjust our ratio of sick time and vacation time?

These are just a few questions to get you started. Think about different scenarios that might be troublesome in a post-pandemic world. As you collect the answers to the survey, look for any trends. If a majority of your employees have the same feeling about something, it may be worth adding it to the employee handbook. Updating your workplace guidelines will show your employees that you truly care about their well-being and are open to change.

2. Invest in Your Non-Physical Presence

One thing that this crisis has proven is that businesses who rely more on technology, are able to pivot quicker if needed. It would not be a stretch to say that the world could be completely digital reliant in the next fifty years.

There is no better time than the present to invest in improving your business’s digital efforts. Whether your business improves its marketing campaigns, business processes, or even just your social media accounts, right now is the perfect time to take the first step.

As you move to modernize your business practices, thoroughly evaluate every one of your business processes. Think of how technology can help you deliver the best value to your customers, even if a crisis like this one struck again. Here are a few areas of your business that may need a few changes:

  • Your business’s point of sale system should be updated. Having an updated POS system can seamlessly combine many of your business processes into one dashboard. No matter what industry your business is in, having an updated POS system will keep your ordering under control, time tracking accurate, and finances in order.
  • Improving your digital marketing efforts should be another priority. Being able to communicate with your customers, no matter the situation is of the utmost importance. If you do not have a dedicated digital marketing team, consider establishing one. If your business already has a marketing team in place, consider investing in new cameras, software, and other editing equipment to take your content to the next level.
  • Evaluate third-party offerings. Depending on the industry you are in, there may be third-party tech options out there that can be of assistance to your business. If your business is in food service, partnering with Grubhub or DoorDash may be an option worth exploring. If your company is not in foodservice, still look to see if you could be offering delivery or curbside pickup for your products. This pandemic has shown the importance of being able to offer your product across multiple channels.

No matter what you do to improve your digital presence, it likely will cost a decent chunk of money. If you find that you want to improve your online existence, but do not have the funds to expand, look into applying for a small business loan. Business loans can help ensure that your business expands safely and smartly.

3. Emphasize Employee Wellness Initiatives

For years, many businesses have offered employee wellness programs aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles, both in and out of the office. The workplace wellness industry is already huge, but it likely will grow again once COVID-19 is over. People will be ultra-focused on being healthy.

As a business owner, you should try and establish a workplace wellness program if you do not have one in place already. Besides just promoting weight-loss and exercise, try to promote complete wellness, too.

An outside company usually will lead these employee wellness plans, but that does not mean that you cannot help. Instead of ordering pizza for a special lunch, look into ordering a salad bar. Next time you and your coworkers want to go out for drinks after work, save that money and use it on a wellness initiative, as a group workout session, instead.

Remember, do not go overboard when establishing a wellness plan. You do not want to make employees feel like they have to participate, but rather want to participate. Show that your business is mindful and aware of your employees’ health and that you want to ensure that everyone is as healthy as possible.

4. Plan for Every Possible Scenario and Outcome

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the whole COVID-19 situation has been just how ill-prepared even the largest corporations are for a pandemic situation. Failing to prepare is just preparing for failure.

While it is sad to say, we likely will face another crisis in the future. Having a crisis preparedness plan should be a major initiative of every business owner right now. Actually, one in four companies does not have an up-to-date crisis plan in place.

If you find that your business does not have a crisis plan in place, do not panic; right now is the perfect time to establish one. Meet with all of the upper management to discuss coming up with a crisis plan.

Drafting a crisis plan will not just happen overnight. It should be well thought out, and account for anything and everything. If you are having trouble coming up with a crisis preparedness plan, try consulting with a business advisor to create one.

How to Reopen Your Retail Business in a Smart Way

After your crisis preparedness plan is established, discuss the plan with your employees. Being completely transparent and upfront, before there is even a problem, will help build trust. This way if a situation like this happens again, your employees will already know what to expect from leadership.

Whether your company returns to the workplace next week, or in two months, there will be change, and your company will be ready for the future of business. We’ll be ready at KORONA, too. If you need any assistance on setting up self-checkout kiosks, contactless payments, or even get a credit card rate comparison, let us know. We’re here to help all of our small businesses get back to normal as quickly as possible. Click below to get in touch with us.

See related: 7 Items to Consider for Museums and Theme Parks to Prepare to Reopen

And for advice on how to deal with COVID, check out these other blogs: