Opening Business During a Pandemic
We, the business community, said we could open safely and responsibly. Our time to demonstrate it is here. Follow the rules of social distancing, sanitizing, masking, (see recommendations below).
Regulation happens when government doesn’t believe that companies can operate in the public best interest on their own. A replacement, state-level ruling is likely to come. Let’s show them we can do this – protect employees and customers by complying with safety recommendations and still operate without spreading COVID.
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Open Knowing There is Fear
Opening during a pandemic is a divisive conversation for your employees, your vendors, and your customers.
Business leaders are logical people. You have to be. You look at numbers. You look at risk. You weigh odds. It’s what you do. Throwing open the doors is logical to many business owners who know doing so is the only way to create jobs, paychecks and livelihoods for our families.
Fear is emotional. Emotions don’t like logic. Emotions see the worst case scenario. They will be that fraction. They equate your opening to your businesses choosing to kill them or a loved one. Businesses have faced this public backlash already that have opened.
You can’t convince the other they are wrong. Dismissing either argument doesn’t move you forward. Emotion spreads faster than logic and can kill your brand as a company.
Your best strategy is to understand, validate and address concerns to the best of your ability.
Realize this: if you open in a manner that addresses the emotion, your logic also wins.
Communicate Your Plan Before, During, After
Fear is eased with a well communicated and uniformly enforced plan.
- Employees: set expectations (your rule book) before people come back to work, as they come back to work and reinforce is constantly through actions, role modeling, and words. You want to ask their fundamental question, “How do I see the company is protecting me?”
- Customers: if you are public-facing, put yourself in their perspective, then ask the same question, “How is that company protecting me when I walk in?” Sign on the door explaining your rules for entering, ability to queue outside your businesses while social distancing, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Vendors: how much they operate in your space to ensure your rules are followed?
Where do you communicate your efforts where the right people see it? Social media, door signage, visual indicators (ex. “this bathroom last cleaned at X time”), etc.
Open Following Recommendations
With many thanks to Dr. Stacy Rizza (infectious disease expert at Mayo Clinic) from our incredibly helpful webinar yesterday (here >>), we gleaned:
- Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to. If you can operate without being on-site, wait.
- Policy: no one sick comes to work.
- Socially distance. Don’t allow the highest risk situation: being less than six feet from someone for more than five minutes without a mask.
- Create a “sanitation point” in your business. No one can get past a certain point without a squirt of hand sanitizer and offered a mask. This keeps all points thereafter COVID-free (if everyone is masked).
- Communicate how you are protecting people walking in. Social media, signage on your door, and visibly enforcing your rules.
Don’t Forget: Families First.
Child care is still a barrier to coming back to work. Many camps are closed. The Families First Act (caring for children or loved ones with COVID) still exists. Some may not be able to return right now.
You “Got This” Business Community.
Show Greater La Crosse what responsible business leadership is – SAFELY OPEN during a pandemic.