How Will You Re-Open?

Her Corner

Frederique Irwin

May 1, 2020

As we begin the month of May, and approach our 2nd full month of post-pandemic life, there is a question that is starting to emerge as a theme – how exactly will businesses work in the near future?

MEANING: WHAT WILL THE PROCESS OF DOING BUSINESS LOOK LIKE?

I have yet to hear of any formal guidelines that will exist that will tell us when to open or not open based on Covid-19 cases in an area. I have been hoping to hear that our local governments will come up with a system of codes, similar to the threat alert levels we had post 9/11, that would allow businesses to say, for example, if it’s a code orange, the business will operate remotely today …

And so, in the interim, we need to all begin to think about this one and decide for our own individual businesses what will make the most sense.

Here’s how I would start to think about it:

The process begins by asking yourself:

  • ‘What level of risk am I willing to accept (because there will always be some level of risk,) in order to run my business?’ And,
  • ‘What will I do to minimize the risk as much as I possibly can?’

Step one is for the business owner to sit down and determine what she believes is acceptable behavior for the safety of her company and her employees – and sharing that with both her employees and her customers.

Most likely this would come in the form of a set of guidelines on how products or services are provided to customers. And I believe these guidelines should be posted where customers can see them: for example, on a company’s website

Step two will be some sort of general (and not necessarily formal) agreement that this is acceptable to the customer. Not a formal agreement, just an acknowledgment – if I agree, we move forward, if I don’t, we don’t.

Step three will be an evolution to where these guidelines may find themselves in a business owner’s terms and conditions for a contract. After all, we are a nation accustomed to litigation – protecting ourselves is well ingrained in our brains.

Step four will be normalization – once we have defined the new safety guidelines, and once we have tested them and adapted them, then they will become the new norm.

Things we didn’t even think could become normal (for example, always wearing a face mask when entering a store,) will become as normal as taking off your shoes at the TSA checkpoints.

None of this is fun, and much of it remains scary, but we must adapt.
We must lead the way. And we must do so thoughtfully and with an open mind and an open heart.