As an essential risk management tool that helps with business continuity planning, the business reopening plan provides company leaders an opportunity to assess how they can get back on track as safely and quickly as possible in a post-crisis environment. To help achieve this, a business reopening plan should include:
- strategies to recover business activities in the quickest possible time;
- a description of key resources, equipment and individual responsibilities necessary to resume operations;
- plan objectives;
- action guidelines required to carry out planned measures; and
- a periodic review schedule to assess effectiveness of the business reopening plan.
Importance of Business Reopening Planning
The development of business reopening plans can help:
- provide a better understanding of the scale of effects of an event/incident to the business;
- assess the impact of the disruption on the workers and their families and determine how to support them as the business reopens;
- pinpoint the immediate corrective measures needed to address urgent concerns;
- identify workplace adjustments that may be needed to help employees adjust while reentering the workforce;
- provide valuable business data on how to address similar situations in the future; and
- build a culture of resilience and recovery within the organization.
5 Key Elements for Effective Business Reopening
The following are vital elements that help ensure an effective business reopening or resumption planning:
Business Impact Analysis of Critical Processes and Systems
A fundamental element of business reopening planning is the identification and impact analysis of the most critical processes and systems. Knowing them and their criticality will help with efficient planning and prioritization. Failure to pinpoint critical processes and systems can lead to wasted effort and resources, leading to further delays in returning to normal operations.
Employees, Customers, and Business Partners
Any business reopening planning must take into account the input, participation, and impact to the employees, customers, and business partners. A disruption to their lives directly affects business critical processes, which is why it is important work with them in business recovery and contingency planning.
Businesses who may have needed to shutdown facilities should conduct facilities condition readiness assessments to ensure that building systems work properly and safety measures are in place to mitigate risks to employees and business processes.
Communication during the reopening phase needs to be as inclusive as possible to help create a supportive working environment that seeks to understand and be understood. From employees to suppliers, everyone involved in the business needs to be kept abreast of developments affecting them. Open channels of communication should be available to help them and the business resumption planning team members to work together amidst a challenging situation.
Much can be learned from each phase of managing and recovering from a contingency. Documenting the process of business reopening planning will help in identifying the things learned, both good and bad, and will go a long way toward helping to deal with other crises when they occur.
Using Business Reopening Plans in a Post-Lockdown World
As businesses recover and employees prepare to return to work when restrictions are lifted, business leaders are bound to face the tough challenges of restarting operations and helping a reentering workforce adapt to the ‘new normal’, all while managing to make the most of dwindling resources.
To maximize recovery while ensuring the steady restart of internal processes and protection of employee health, executives will have to lay the groundwork for post-pandemic business recovery to ensure that the necessary measures are in place to help them remain viable, even in the aftermath of a pandemic.
With carefully designed Business Reopening Plans, employers can develop strategies and procedures to help recover disrupted systems, maintain critical operations, and ensure that employee health and welfare is protected.
What controls should employers consider for a post-lockdown business reopening?
Forming an ad hoc committee
Forming an ad hoc committee can help execute existing business recovery and resumption plans (if any) and assess the physical, economic, and social impact of the pandemic to the organization. Business reopening actions should be adjusted based upon the actual impact and circumstances.
Implementing proper return-to-work measures
If there were company members who have been exposed to but already cleared of COVID-19, proper return to work guidelines should be set to help them adapt as they reenter the workforce. Further return to work guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be found here.
Implementing intermittent social distancing beyond lockdowns
Continued restrictions such as social distancing measures may need to be in place intermittently until 2022, scientists have warned in an analysis that suggests there could be resurgences of COVID-19 for years to come. With this, companies will need to review social distancing guidelines by the CDC and assess how they can implement it in their workplaces.
Providing access to consistently clean and sanitized facilities
Regular workplace cleaning schedules may need to be more scrutinous to strengthen the protection of employees against viral infections. Areas frequented by workers or others (e.g. visitors to your premises) should be cleaned and sanitized more often to also provide employees a sense of security when they are working. Hygiene supplies such as soap, water, and toilet paper should also be properly stocked at all times.
Considering the restructuring of how people work
Social distancing regulations to combat the coronavirus pandemic have forced millions of employees to work remotely. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to a permanent change in working arrangements, but to proactively address these changes, companies may have to restructure how employees work as a strategy to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks.
Staying up to date with local and CDC guidance on the coronavirus
It is important that businesses remain up to date on the latest developments with regard to the pandemic. Guidance and directives from local authorities and the CDC will adapt to changing circumstances, so companies should make sure to revisit them in order to strengthen business reopening plans.
Digital Tool to Help the Workforce Adapt To ‘The New Normal’
Soon enough, businesses will rise again and the workforce will be able to return, although, there will be a ‘new normal’. To help organizations and employees plan on how they can gradually adapt, iAuditor by SafetyCulture provides free digital business reopening plan templates which can be completed on mobile devices or desktop.
With iAuditor by SafetyCulture, you can:
- download and customize business reopening plan templates for free, convert your existing paper templates to our digital format via smart scan, or create your own template from scratch with our drag-and-drop template builder;
- enable collaboration amongst key stakeholders to work simultaneously on business reopening plans and discuss the necessary solutions;
- assign actions (with automated notifications) with priority levels to assigned personnel to ensure they are completed on time;
- enable digital sign-offs for approval of business reopening plan;
- automatically generate and share accomplished business reopening plans to senior management teams;
- gather crucial data that can help inform/improve pandemic preparedness plans; and
- use iAuditor for free with small teams. Unlimited reports and storage for premium accounts.
To help you get started, we have compiled checklist templates to help with business resumption planning.
Featured Business Reopening Plan Templates
Business Resumption Plan for Retail Stores
This business resumption plan for retail stores can help retail chain operators put measures in place to ensure the safe reopening of their stores. Use this customizable template to help managers inspect store facilities, take photo evidences of completed actions, and assign tasks to store personnel.
Workplace Reopening Checklist for COVID-19
A lot of businesses like gym, pubs, restaurants, retailers are now preparing to open again, and the process of reopening can be stressful. This workplace reopening checklist should help guide them through the first few step, plus they can customize it to add things that are relevant to their industry to meet specific legislative requirements in their respective countries.
Facilities Reopening Readiness Checklist
This checklist can be used by facility managers to perform facilities readiness assessments for reopening after a lockdown. It can help ensure that the facilities system are functional and policies are up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safe return of employees and customers.
Social Distancing Plan for Workplaces
Once lockdowns are lifted, businesses can resume, however, social distancing may still be needed or required by the state. This social distancing plan template can help employers in implementing social distancing measures in workplaces as a risk management strategy to minimize the possibility of outbreak resurgence.
Return to Work Form
This return to work form can be used by an employee coming from prolonged absence (e.g. due to injury or sickness) to list days of absence and its cause. It can be used by supervisors to plan with workers who were cleared of the COVID-19 infection how they can be reintegrated back into the workforce as safely as possible.
Return to Work Risk Assessment Form
This return to work risk assessment form can be used to list and assess the identified safety implications associated with the return to work process of employees. The risk assessment process should consider the impact of the workplace and current events on the employees’ ability to work and if there are existing controls to help mitigate the risk to the employees.
Store Re-opening Checklist
These are BRC-USDAW (British Retail Consortium-Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) recommended implementation practices for Non-Food Retail Stores. This can serve as a guide for retailers on how to implement UK Government advice based upon on these recommendations.
Bonus: Workplace Pandemic Preparedness Plan
This workplace pandemic preparedness plan checklist by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can help pandemic coordinators of large organizations to develop, maintain, and act upon strategies to protect employee health and safety in the event of a future pandemic
Retail Store Re-Opening Checklist
UK government advice in retail store re-opening after Covid-19 pandemic. BRC-USDAW recommended implementation practices for Non-Food Retail Stores. A guide for retailers on how to implement Government advice.