Are you ready for unlock? We know we are!
If you’re like our CreditEnable Team, you are probably itching to go back to working from your office. If you’re a shop owner, you’re probably ready to go back to working out of your shop, engaging with your employees and customers face-to-face, and seeing that steady customer footfall once again.
But as cities and states start to ease restrictions, you need to follow and enforce strict COVID guidelines to control and avoid a third COVID-19 wave in India. We know you already know the basics – wear a mask, wash your heads, use sanitiser. But a refresher is always helpful. So here are our top tips on how you can prepare your business for Unlock.
1. Keep Up with the Latest Unlock Notices Issued by Your State Government
With our active case count still fluctuating, most states are releasing weekly Unlock guidelines that incrementally open up the economy and public movement. Remember to regularly keep up with these notices and adjust your employee schedules accordingly.
Make sure they know who is allowed to come on what days and stagger their days and hours so that you do not cross the maximum capacity permitted inside a workplace. If you run a retail store, also consider customers in your tally when preparing your weekly employee schedule.
If public transport is still not operational in your city or is not allowed to function at full capacity, help your employees find alternate ways to come to work like carpooling or partner with a taxi service to help them.
2. Integrate Technology into Your Business Operations
You can run your business in a smarter, faster, and more cost-efficient manner by introducing new technology to your operations. Customers have now gotten used to shopping for everything online from the safety of their homes. So, we recommend you meet them where they are. Start selling your products on platforms like Flipkart and Amazon, and use Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to market your products. Using these social platforms, you can show your merchandise to your followers and showcase happy customer reviews and testimonials to attract more orders.
Learn more about how you can leverage technology to grow your business and reach new customers even during the lockdown in our two-part series (Part 1 and Part 2). Adopting technology to improve your business processes also increases your attractiveness with lenders when you apply for a business loan. These technologies provide lenders with thousands of data points, which lenders can assess to determine your creditworthiness more thoroughly. These digital solutions will also help you continue to grow your business and your sales even after the pandemic has passed.
3. Double Mask
We know it’s hot, and we know wearing a mask can be uncomfortable sometimes, but you need to wear one for your safety and your customers’ safety. Double masking is simple. First, wear a surgical mask; ensure the nose bridge is fitted and that your nose and mouth are both covered. Second, put on a cloth mask over the surgical mask. Two masks provide you extra safety by ensuring you don’t breathe in any droplets or particles if you do come in contact with someone who sick with COVID-19.
We highly recommend double masking, if you will be indoors and in close contact with many people.
You can also provide your employees with face masks to wear along with their masks to increase employee and customer safety.
4. Wash Your Hands with Soap
Soap, water, 20-seconds, rinse. It’s that simple.
Humans tend to touch our faces often. If you’re in a public space where you may touch a door handle, a light switch, an elevator button, or even the tap in the washroom, avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes right after.
So, be extra cautious and wash your hands as often as possible, and avoid touching your nose, mouth and eyes unless necessary.
It is also common for us to use our hands instead of a spoon while eating. That’s the fun of eating Indian food! But during a health crisis, provide disposable cutlery in break/lunchrooms for your employees to use and encourage everyone to thoroughly wash their hands with soap and water after finishing their meals.
5. Provide Hand Sanitizer Dispensers Across Your Workplace
If running water is not easily accessible around your workplace, make sure you set up hand sanitiser dispensers across your workplace. In addition to that, encourage your employees to use sanitiser regularly and make sure the dispensers are filled regularly.
Seeing hand sanitiser dispensers around your business will also instil customer confidence in you, making them feel more comfortable and safer when patronizing your business and engaging with your employees.
6. Disinfect Your Space Often
When your shop or office is cleaned every day, ask the cleaning staff to also disinfect surfaces and things like all door handles, light switches, bathrooms, break/lunchrooms, the water dispenser, the elevator and the staircase bannister. These are surfaces people touch more often.
Any household cleaning product is effective against the COVID virus, so make sure to use rubbing alcohol, glass cleaning, or even just soap and water to clean the surfaces.
Additionally, also encourage your employees to regularly disinfect their workstations.
7. Talk to your Employees and Be Compassionate about Sick Days
Talk to your employees. Encourage them to be honest with you and disclose if they start to feel unwell.
If someone does feel sick, send them home, ask them to monitor their symptoms, and check up on them regularly. If their symptoms continue and sound like COVID, ask them to get tested and to consult a doctor as soon as possible. At the same time, ask anyone who came in contact with the employee to isolate and monitor their health and have their workplace sanitized.
8. Discourage Unnecessary Socializing or Crowding
We know everyone will be happy to be back at work and may want to catch up with their colleagues during tea breaks or lunch. Where possible, ask your employees to not crowd together during these times. Suggest they go out for a walk in the neighbourhood park instead or go to the roof to catch up while maintaining an appropriate distance from one another and wear masks.
9. Control Customer Flow within your Premises
If you run an FMCG or retail business, set up procedures to control how many people touch your inventory. These can include closing off the entrance to your shop if your business is smaller in size and taking customer orders at the door. You can also display signage requesting customers to not touch the merchandise and instead ask an employee to show them the product. For clothing stores, it may be wise for you to discourage customers from trying clothing. If they end up not purchasing it, that article of clothing cannot be returned to the shelf immediately. It will instead have to be disinfected and ironed before it can go back on the display floor.
10. Encourage Your Employees to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine
Starting 21st June 2021, everyone over the age of 18 in India is eligible for a free vaccine at a government-run health facility. The central government has also put caps on the prices private hospitals can charge for the vaccine. The sooner everyone gets vaccinated, the fewer COVID-related disruptions your business will face. This will allow you to work more freely and help our economy recover faster.
So, help your employees register for the vaccine and book an appointment as soon as possible, even though it is no longer necessary to register before you go to get the vaccine. Registering and booking your appointment will hasten the vaccine process and ensure they will get the vaccine on the day and time they visit the vaccine centre. You can learn more about how to register for the vaccine on the CoWIN platform here.
Another way to instil customer confidence in your business is by having your employees who have received both doses of the vaccine wear an “I am fully vaccinated” pin while those who have received one dose can wear an “I am partially vaccinated” pin. This is a cute way to make an impression on your customers and convey that their health and safety is your #1 priority.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States also released a COVID prevention guide for workplaces to follow. Read it here.
Though we may be stuck with our ‘new normal’ for a bit longer, by strictly following the vaccine and COVID-19 mitigation policies, India may be able to restart our economy and return to business as usual soon.
Until then, stay healthy, double mask, and follow COVID-appropriate behaviour.