by Tina Seymour Demoran, Esquire

As a small business owner, I was faced with the decision to keep my doors open, to partially close, or to close down completely during the COVID-19 crisis.

As attorneys were considered essential employees, I decided to do a partial shut down for my firm. While the attorneys in my office continue to work daily, we allowed our hourly staff to stay home and work remotely between the last week of March and May 9th.

This last Monday, we opened our doors again full-time. Prior to the full reopening, however, I had some planning and preparation to do before everyone returned to work.

The first thing we did was thoroughly clean the office. This is kind of a no-brainer for everyone, but it’s an important, essential step in re-opening your business after the last few months. Making sure you don’t just wipe down the main surface areas, but do a thorough, deep cleaning to all of the exposed handles, walls, doors, and common surfaces in your business, exterior and interior, is vital to ensuring you’re protecting your employees and your clients.

Next, we checked with our pest control company, and made sure that they made their rounds. Some companies were unable to enter in order to do routine inspections. These inspections included HVAC, fire extinguisher, and pest control.

We are entering the termite swarm and the crazy ant season. Also, we are entering a rainy season where bugs tend to try to enter structures to escape from the accumulated rain. I made sure that the interior and exterior areas were sprayed before our employees returned back full-time to work.

I took the time to rearrange the areas that need to be rearranged, to have internal repairs completed, and a few pet projects done while the employees were not in the office.

I completed a few employee review sheets, did some internal audits, and made sure that my desk was cleaned up enough to assist the employees in their transition back to full-time office work.

I did a PPE assessment for each position, made sure we had appropriate PPE in the office, and ensured that our cleaning supplies were fully stocked and available to everyone. This included ensuring that hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes, as well as Lysol spray, were out and visible to remind employees to use them routinely and between clients.

We even restocked the bathroom closets to make sure that there was more than enough toilet paper and paper towels for the next few weeks.

Every business is unique. I’m sure that you will go above and beyond this list, and that there are several more items that you need to take care of before your employees return back full-time to work. Or, if you kept your office open partially and was proactive in dealing with issues as they arose on a daily basis, your list may not be that extensive.

Either way, business owners, welcome back.

We’ve missed you. Good luck as we all go forward into this new phase for our communities.