Preparing your business for the easing of lockdown

If you’re a business owner, times of change lie just ahead as the easing of restrictions allow business to (almost) carry on as usual.

Barbers are able to perform haircuts once again, with non-essential retail shops preparing to reopen. Shopfronts being allowed to resume trading isn’t the only change coming with eased restrictions, however. When it is safe to do so, office teams may also be returning to collaborate from a shared space. There’s no denying that our workplaces are going to be seeing big shifts as the lockdown roadmap unfolds. Here are some ways you can prepare for the possible changes coming your way.


Ensure the office is safe

If you’re looking to return to an office-based environment, it’s important to note that no formal date has yet been set. Office workers are still encouraged to work from home wherever possible, but if you’re considering planning a roadmap for returning it should be your top priority to secure the right protective equipment for your staff. Ensure you have plenty of hand sanitising stations, Perspex screens, and clear social distancing guidelines in place to keep your team safe.


Discuss returning to the office with your team

Over 31 million people have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with the number of second doses increasing daily. If your coworkers are comfortable discussing this with you, ask them how they might feel about a phased return when it is safe to do so, now that they’re vaccinated.


Be mindful that some of your team members may still be shielding. Although guidance has changed for high risk individuals, meaning that shielding is no longer a strict requirement, some of your staff may still feel safer staying at home. Plan how you might facilitate this if some staff members have chosen to return. For example, the best methods for ensuring team meetings continue to operate without interruption between remote locations and your workplace, so your team can still communicate effectively.


Consider a staff rota

It’s true that some people do work more productively in an office environment – and after a year of working from home, that’s definitely understandable. If you and your team decide to return to the office, but can’t accommodate the same capacity of people due to social distancing, look into introducing a staff rota. For example, on one day three staff members can work from the office, with the remaining team still working from home. This could be rotated, so that all your staff have a chance to touch base in-person more frequently.


Strengthen the digital branches of your business

Throughout the past year, digital services like web design and digital marketing have seen an uptake in business as the world moved online. When we shift back to more in-person practices, it’s still important to maintain your developing digital presence, keeping your potential client base as wide as possible. It’s important to remember that even as shops reopen, e-commerce will remain important.


Brush up on your social skills

A year away from the chit-chat of the office may have left you scratching your head when it comes to in-person interaction! Before coming back to a working environment with other people, there are great benefits to be had from brushing up on your social skills.


There are a huge range of online courses for professional development that can help, like Skillshare and Udemy. One of Udemy’s most popular social skills classes is called Double your Social Skills and Instantly Connect with People, helping you explore techniques that will prepare you for collaborating once again.


Plan for the new normal

Whilst a phased plan for returning to the office is useful, you will also need to consider the long-term. If you’re working from an office, put some thought into how your team might want to work in the face of changing work-life balance. Whilst some employees are keen to get back into the office environment, a study by Instantprint has revealed that more than a third of UK employees (36%) still working from home would love to work full time from home forever. Should your staff prefer to continue as a remote employee for a certain number of days a week, have a discussion with them about how you might facilitate this so that projects continue to run smoothly.


We’re looking forward to the promising times that lie ahead for SMEs, who have taken the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year. By having both a short-term plan for reopening the workplace as well as a long-term strategy, your business will be as prepared as possible for the future.