The COVID-19 pandemic presented business disruptions on a level that no one could have predicted and has changed the way employers will operate moving forward. With the federal, state and local governments slowly introducing reopening efforts and eliminating stay-at-home restrictions, you’re likely beginning to assess what the “new normal” will look like for your organization.

Doeren Mayhew’s Business Advisory Group shares insight into critical areas to evaluate within your business before returning to the workplace – from health protocols, communication, training, remote working capabilities and more – and how they are all essential in promoting a safe and productive environment.

Health and Safety Procedures

The main priority for any business should be securing a safe and healthy environment for all individuals entering your facility. Before resuming your workplace operations, evaluate your current health and safety procedures for your employees as well as your facilities, and identify whether any areas should be improved or implemented in response to COVID-19. Employers should also make sure they are following the reopening requirements outlined by state and local governments. Initial areas to consider in your reopening efforts include:

  • Protocols for your facilities:
    • What measures are currently in place to regularly and frequently clean and disinfect any commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, tables, chairs or restrooms?
    • Do you have an adequate supply of protective and preventative gear for your employees and visitors, such as face coverings, cleaning and disinfecting wipes or sprays, and hand sanitizers?
    • Do you have social distancing guidelines in place that enables individuals to maintain at least a 6-feet distance from each other and reduces large gatherings within your facilities?
    • Is there visible signage at your business reminding everyone of best hygiene practices?
  • Protocols for your employees:
    • Is there a sick policy in place for employees who have signs or symptoms of being ill, such as coughing, sneezing, having a fever, etc.? If so, does it include key symptoms identified with COVID-19?
    • If an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or exposed to someone who has, have you identified a self-isolation period before their return to work?

An additional measure to consider is having each employee conduct an individual assessment prior to returning to the office to identify if they have been exposed to COVID-19 or experienced any symptoms, recently traveled and gain an initial understanding of what they would like to see in place prior to returning to the workplace.


In the event of any business disruption, communication is key for employers. As you begin outlining plans for reopening your workplace, be transparent and offer clarity on these efforts so employees are provided with the assurance their best interest is on top of mind. To help alleviate concerns and prevent confusion amongst your employees, we encourage you to communicate the following before returning to the workplace:

  • An outline of the transition plan to return to the workplace, including whether everyone will return at once or be phased in.
  • What safety measures have been implemented or enhanced, such as social distancing guidelines.
  • Any procedures for leaving and entering your facility and whether preventative gear will be required to be worn at all times.
  • What efforts are being made to help keep the workplace clean and where protective gear can be located.
  • Any restrictions for large gathering spaces, i.e., copy rooms, conference/meeting rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, etc.

Once your workplace reopens, be sure you have the appropriate signage posted throughout your facility which clearly communicates and supports these measures. For example, mark off any areas where employees cannot maintain the recommended 6-foot distance from each other or post signage if a common meeting area is restricted to a certain number of individuals.

Remote Work Capabilities

Although most employers prefer being in an office environment, continue to make remote working an option for employees who will not have the capability or comfort level to return on your expected reopen date. A common area of concern for employers who offer remote working is often its impact on productivity and communication. However, there are ways to minimize this concern:

  • Clearly set your expectations. Be sure they clearly understand their expectations when working remotely and that they have all tools, technology and information to continue working efficiently.
  • Communicate regularly. Employees who continue working remote may begin to feel cut off from your organization or their peers, so be sure they have access to a communication outlet that helps keeps them informed. This could be via an employee intranet or daily or weekly calls – whatever channel is mutually beneficial.
  • Use collaboration tools. Adopt the technology that supports and encourages collaboration for your staff in both physical and virtual working environments. Consult with your technology group to identify the platforms most appropriate and effective for your needs.

Training and Education

As employees begin returning to the workplace, it is important they clearly understand the safety measures in place and their role and responsibility in promoting these efforts. To help foster a safe working environment, consider implementing a training program to educate your staff on your organization’s health and safety standards and formally documents their understanding of these procedures. An effective training program usually includes the following:

  • Materials outlining your safety standards and its purpose.
  • A mechanism that monitors your employee’s training participation and compliance.
  • An opportunity to obtain feedback and measure your training efforts to identify areas for improvement.

Thinking Ahead

As you look ahead, consider conducting a risk assessment to help develop a business continuity plan if one is not currently in place. A business continuity plan is instrumental in an employers’ ability to quickly react and adapt to future disruptions, which is often the key determining factor between maintaining your current operations or being forced to close.

Employers should also lean on their group of trusted advisors to gain insight on how to navigate through this pandemic and be prepared for the future. Consult with your certified public accountant to explore how recently passed legislation impacts you from a tax perspective, as there were several tax extensions and credits included. Work with your attorney to ensure you’re following the proper reopening procedures to help minimize any future risks or legal disputes. Ask your lender what lending options are available for your business to help provide some financial relief.

Planning is crucial for every business right now and Doeren Mayhew’s team of advisors stand ready to help. For more information, contact us today.