So many questions, so little time to decide when and how to reopen your nonprofit after your state government gives the all-clear decree.
We can’t tell you, absolutely, what measures you should take to keep your employees, customers, and other stakeholders safe when you reopen. But we can share the questions the U.S. Centers for Disease Control says you should consider before getting back to business.
Does your community no longer require mitigation?
Mitigation is the steps your community took to slow the spread of the coronavirus. For most of us, that meant staying at home, putting at least 6 feet of distance between us and any other human, washing hands a gazillion times a day, and disinfecting anything that doesn’t move.
Your governor will partially or totally lift stay-at-home orders. But, in the end, you’ll decide when you open your doors.
Before you reopen, you should be reasonably confident that mitigation efforts have worked in your part of the globe. Some experts say mitigation has worked when new cases of the virus peak and plateau in your city.
Do non-essential employees live locally?
If mitigation has worked in your city, but you’ve got employees from neighboring areas where coronavirus cases are still rising, you should think twice before welcoming them back into the office.
If these out-of-towners have been working remotely, you can maintain the status quo until the virus plateaus in their areas.
Can you protect higher-risk employees?
Reopening may be a blessing for some workers and a curse for others who are at greater risk for contracting and surviving the virus.
Before you start up again, have a plan that considers the needs of high-risk workers – older, immunosuppressed or workers with an underlying condition. Can they work from home? Can you minimize contact they have with the public? Can they work untraditional hours when fewer people are in the office?
Brainstorm with supervisors and high-risk employees. They may suggest a solution you never considered.
Can you keep your staff and stakeholders safe?
Diligent disinfecting and continued physical distancing are vital strategies for keeping the people who enter your place of business safe. Easier said than done.
Can you keep clean?
Availability of some cleaning and disinfecting products is scarce. When was the last time you found some Clorox Wipes?
Before you open, make sure you have access to enough disinfectant, hand sanitizer, and face masks to keep the virus at bay. Also, educate porters and cleaning staff on appropriate sanitation techniques, like frequently wiping down door handles, light switches, faucets, and other items and surfaces that people touch frequently.
If you must renovate, install countertops made of nonporous material, and use antimicrobial fabrics that repel microbes or retard their grow.
Can you keep people apart?
Physical distancing requires fewer people to work in more space. Do you have the room to space people at least 6 feet apart? If not, do you have the flexibility to stagger work hours, which reduces crowds?
You can repurpose conference rooms that hold 15 into meeting rooms for less than 10. Put casters on easy chairs in social area so you can easily pull them apart. Conduct staff meetings on programs such as Zoom, which prevents a large gathering.
How will you monitor contagion?
You’ve heard the key to reopening the virus-ruled world is testing, testing, testing.
You must figure out how you’ll know who’s infected, who’s been infected, and who isn’t infected.
- Will you take everyone’s temperature who comes into the office?
- Will you provide testing, if you can get your hands on it?
- What communication protocols will you put in place to know when someone is infected?
- What will you do if a staff comes down with the virus?
- How will you communicate an infection with local authorities?
In the end, nobody knows how reopening will pan out. The key to getting back to normal is to stay flexible. If one safety strategy doesn’t work, try another. If employees feel unsafe or overburdened, listen and respond. And if this ugly virus overwhelms your community again, be ready to close your doors.
About the Author
Lisa Kaplan Gordon is a veteran content producer, e-book creator, and social media writer with two Pulitzer Prize nominations and three National Headliners Awards. Her writing has appeared in Washingtonian Magazine, Redbook, Yahoo!, AOL Real Estate, AOL Daily Finance, USA Today, and US Weekly, as well as major metro dailies. She writes several times a month for 501c.com.