Phase 2 Kick-Off Is Here; How Can I Safely Reopen?

05.06.20Baylee Davies

On Monday, May 4th, Governor Newsom announced plans to implement Phase 2 of reopening low-risk businesses in California. Although encouraging for businesses, it can also invoke a sense of fear and confusion of what that looks like in today’s new “normal.” The idea of business “as usual” is no longer relevant and an entirely new mindset of moving forward during this unprecedented time will be crucial. What you do in terms of planning and strategizing the reopening of your business will come with a lot of questions and even more crucial steps in terms of modifications to ensure your business reopens safely. Our HR experts are here to support you by way of our complimentary COVID eShield Hotline. Governor Newsom plans to provide more details and guidance on Thursday, May 7th, which doesn’t give businesses much time to create and implement a strategy. Many unanswered questions will remain and SDHRC vows to stay ahead of the curve developing a strategic framework to help businesses quickly adopt guidelines, that lead to reopening. One key component of any plan is execution, but before that can happen you need a clear definition of what your goals and objectives are to ensure they are well defined and achievable. 

So, that begs the question, how can businesses safely and effectively reopen to ensure compliance of all mandated arenas while also easing employee fear or hesitation? The landscape of this will begin with addressing how your business will slowly transition it’s reopening and what that will look like. It’s important to understand a phased approach might seem daunting, but it is essential to ensure all steps in the process lead to success. 

Components to Consider Before Reopening

1. Communication

Are you in a position to bring back all employees at once or will you need to do so in stages? 

  • Determine priorities for preparing office space.
  • How will you advise employees you are ready for them to return?  
    • Will you call them, send them an email, draft an announcement?
    • Are you prepared to have employees reject your invitation to return? How will you handle their refusal?
    • Can you force an employee to come to work if they don’t feel safe? Is their job protected?
  • How will you ensure employees who return understand the new normal and the steps they are required to follow to ensure safety for everyone?
2. Preparation

What will your workforce look like when you reopen?

  • Do you have protective measures for employees at higher risk (e.g. teleworking, tasks that minimize contact)?
  • For employees who were furloughed or laid off and now returning, have you evaluated if any need to redo I-9s, complete new hire paperwork, have benefits reinstated, such as medical, dental, sick leave, vacation time, etc.?
  • Which employees would be more productive in their role when work is performed onsite versus remotely?
  • Do you have a telecommuting policy?
3. Safety

Have you developed an action plan for your employees before opening your doors? Are you aware of and prepared for OSHA’s guidelines and requirements including “OSHA Requirements for Reporting COVID-19 Infection at Work” and “OSHA Guidance on Preparing the Workplace for COVID-19”, both of which are found on our COVID Resources page under “Relevant Guidelines, Notices, and Posters”?  

  • Consider screening protocols for employees and customers.
  • How will you monitor employees and their well being? What action plans are in place?
  • Ensure proper signage is posted in the workspace/office/warehouse and establish new protocols for maximum safety.
  • Identify strategies for your office/workspaces that manage and ensure appropriate physical distancing.
4. Cleaning/Sanitizing

Are you prepared to implement new procedures to ensure the safety of your employees?

  • Develop a new system for sterilization based on all available guidelines.
  • Provide tissues, no-touch trash cans, soap and water, and hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces (consider if this can be done with current staff or if you need to utilize an outside cleaning service).
  • Focus on cleaning common and high-traffic areas.

We understand with this announcement comes excitement, uncertainty, and risk for your business and its employees. It’s impossible to address each of the areas above in a uniform approach since each business and industry is individualized. SDHR Consulting is offering a free consultation session to help you prepare to return some or all of your employees to work, understand the laws and regulations, and create the safest possible environment while maintaining compliance with OSHA, local/state/ and federal requirements. Using our eShield Hotline, you can work with an HR Expert to determine the best action plan for your business. Enroll now in our complimentary, basic option or upgrade to our premium version with a 30-day risk-free trial period providing you the ability to cancel at any time. For a limited time, we are also offering a 50% discount for our premium version and further savings if you select the quarterly or annual option. Click here to view our COVID eShield Hotline options, offering your business guidance with compliance, safe ways to reopen, and peace of mind!