Millions of businesses throughout the UK have been closed for months at a time Since March 2020, due to restrictions imposed to help slow down the spread of the virus. Now the future is looking more hopeful, with the government’s roadmap setting out various points when you can safely reopen your business and larger groups of consumers may be accessing a wider range of products and services.
How to Safely Reopen Your Business
Businesses eager to get back to work following extended periods of lockdown, need to do so safely and sustainably. There are few key actions that can support you to safely reopen your business. There are three key areas to consider:
- COVID- secure updates
- Cash flow forecasting
Businesses that are reopening should check various areas of health and safety that may have been compromised during closure, such as overdue checks and any deterioration around the building. This will ensure that both staff and customers can return to the business safely. We are all much more familiar with divide secure measures that ensure social distancing is possible and upheld and sanitation is available and mandated. Yet for all businesses these updates and processes come at a cost, which needs to be taken into consideration in a cash flow forecast that identifies all of the possible variables and these need to be accounted for.
To safely reopen your business you must check thoroughly that infrastructure is still up to rigorous quality standards and that health and safety controls and procedures are still in place and effective, plus take corrective actions if not. For example, certain periodic checks may be overdue (like fire safety and equipment inspections) and other hazards may have materialised while the business was unoccupied (such as legionella risks or deteriorated asbestos-containing materials).
The first action for a workplace to do before reopening, either to the workforce or the public is conduct a risk assessment. This should include COVID-19 requirements and health and safety measures. It should assess all the risks that may have arisen during the period of closure, such as overdue checks, potential deterioration of the building or equipment, and even new hazards created by COVID-19 controls.
It should also consider any necessary information, instruction, and training for staff to cover new risks and how to follow control measures, as well as any overdue refresher training for health and safety. It’s therefore crucial to check records. Staff may require both internal and external training, with internal training being especially important if there have been a number of changes to the premises and work processes due to COVID-19. Some key areas to consider before reopening could include:
- Fire safety
- Asbestos safety
- Legionella safety
- Electrical safety and PAT testing
- Inspections, maintenance, and restarting machinery
- Manual handling safety
- COSHH safety
- Social distancing
- Perspex screens
- WC safety and sanitation
- Shared appliances
- Cleaning regime
- Possible one way systems
Additionally to staff refresher training, you will have new procedures to follow that keep your workplace COVID-secure. People need to know what to do to work safely. Your business will have its own unique considerations. Some are virtually universal to every workplace, like updating fire safety and testing equipment, whereas others will be unique to your place of work, how you approach social distancing for example. This is why a dedicated risk assessment is crucial to safely reopen your business. For some businesses, although these measures are possible, they may not be affordable long term, in which case some difficult decisions may need to be made, or adjustments to the business model or organisational structure. Prestige Business Management can help you calculate your altered cash flow and select the right way forward in your business planning.
Lastly all of these extra measures and changes to staffing patterns have costs and cash flow implications. If you are confident that you can reopen your workplace safely and the relevant checks and updates can or have been made. Your business will need to evaluate how the profit and losses will be affected by investing in these measures, plus changes to trading patterns, staffing and possible restricted consumer access. Businesses across the board have seen sweeping changes to consumer behaviour, supply chain logistics, staffing procedures to name but a few. Essential services which remained under duty to remain open had to rapidly uptake COVID-secure measures to continue trading whereas other businesses were forced to close by law. Others saw a movement to online retail support their training. Others diversifying not only their trading activities, restaurants adopted take away services for the first time for example, some businesses have more dramatically altered their business model to maintain trade under such challenging circumstances. All of these will be unique to your business and your industry. These simple steps will help any business to start on the road to recovery and safely reopen your business.
The most difficult part to predict, is exactly what the next year or several will have in store for businesses. There is still much debate over where government resources are best aimed and about how the government will recover the huge sums of money used to support workers throughout the pandemic. One robust security measure all businesses can take is to conduct a cash flow forecast that will allow your business to test all the possible variables in your trading pattern and predict business activities according to real time outcomes. Talk to Prestige Business Management about your cash flow and ways in which you might consider diversifying your trading. Also consider if you are getting the most that you can from various government support packages, so that you can safely reopen your business and continue to sustain growth in the future economic climate.
At Prestige Business Management we can help your Business
At Prestige Business Management we can help your business understand the best solutions for the success of your business. Find out what we can do for you. Call us today on 0203 773 2927.