Many small businesses are starting the process of reopening premises as lockdown restrictions ease, but it’s important to put measures in place to help ensure safety.
In the coming weeks, more businesses will be allowed to reopen as part of a gradual ‘back to work’ process. Many SMEs will be keen to reopen soon, as the financial pressure of closing premises has been significant, but it’s important to ensure that businesses reopen safely and with the appropriate cover in place.
Whether you’re planning to return to your premises in the near future or not for several weeks, it’s important to review your business continuity plans (BCPs) for doing so.
Before you return, you should ensure that your premises are completely safe for re-entry. Once the more structural checks have been done, you want to ensure you’re still complying with Government recommendations and advice. This may involve revising health and safety policies, and ensuring social distancing is able to be maintained in the workplace.
Staff may be struggling with mental health and the so-called ‘fear factor’ during their return to work. You can help them feel supported by providing hand sanitiser and putting up signs to encourage social distancing.
Different industries will need to consider more specific checks before reopening. For example:
- If you’re a food business, do you have any perishable stock that needs replacing?
- If your business involves home visits, will you and your staff be adequately protected when entering customers’ homes? How can you minimise risk of infection?
Some businesses will have to do a gradual return to full trading capacity, so check with Government regulation and guidance to ensure you comply with all requirements. There are some differences in guidance and regulations depending on which nation of the UK you’re based in.
When reopening, it’s important to check your business insurance. You may have downgraded or stopped your insurance cover in lockdown, so ensure this is back in place before you resume trading. Many insurers are taking sympathetic views to mid-term adjustments and changes in cover, so you may be able to slowly increase your cover back to normal.
In the future
As things begin to ease, you may want to revisit your BCP to help keep your business running if a future event causes issues. FSB members who are registered with FSB Insurance Service can do so using their free BCP kits, provided by Inoni.
In a recent blog, Inoni put forward six steps to help business leaders continually re-focus their efforts, based on present and future conditions:
- Paint an evolving picture of how your sector will emerge from Covid-19, using the best available information
- Use it to focus, adapt and evolve
- your strategy, planning constantly
- Be aware of the risks in any assumptions you make, such as a second intense period of lockdown or a key supplier failing
- Anticipate events and be ready to act swiftly and decisively if you do get blown off-course
- Keep important parties informed and onside, setting their expectations
- Keep safe by logging all the decisions you make in case of legal challenge or enquiry
There is a long road ahead and those that embrace an agile way of thinking may have a significant advantage. But you know your business best, and we’ll be here, along with all the other FSB benefits and services, to help ensure your business’s resilience.