At the core of the Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO)'s mission is an enduring commitment to engaging business owners at every stage with the tools, education and community necessary to learn and grow to new levels of leadership, in business and beyond. As businesses begin to reopen after weeks of shutdown due to COVID-19, we asked EO members about their strategies and protocols for operating companies while navigating health and safety challenges. Here's what they shared:
"Our IT support business will reopen in waves, to ensure that if COVID-19 hits our office, it won't wipe out our ability to service clients. Service companies like ours face two main issues:
- Keeping employees and clients safe
- Adopting policies that will increase trust with our clients
When we go on-site, we'll wear branded masks and gloves, sanitize the workstation or server, conduct our work, then sanitize it again and mark the workstation as sanitized and ready for use. Also, we are recommending to clients that they work with us to set up queuing software that allows guests to queue in their cars, rather than in the office or restaurant. This ensures that guests feel safe when they enter a place of business and can be immediately seen or seated."
? Sunny Lowe, EO Fort Worth, founder and CEO of Blue Jean Networks (named one of Inc.'s 2020 Best Places to Work)
"I anticipate the reopening to be slow. Amid uncertainty, individuals will be understandably cautious, a bit fearful and unsure of what to believe. I want to be respectful of my staff's feelings and will let employees slowly trickle back into the office, while prioritizing social distancing and high-level safety precautions. However, I cannot let a lackadaisical mindset begin. I usually operate with a sense of urgency and feel that we have had plenty of time "off". Delivering on-time and accurate financials to our clients with metrics that help them run their companies while also staying up-to-date with HR guidelines is our job! I'm always exploring ways to motivate my team and kick them into high gear; now more than ever."
? Jennifer Barnes, EO San Diego, founder and CEO of Optima Office
"My 23-year-old media production company produced about 4,300 shoot days from 19 offices around the US before we shut down. The road to reopening is treacherous. Like all US business owners, we have eight weeks from our Paycheck Protection Program loan deposit to bring employees back--but back to what? We have few video shoots booked. Our sports division is shut down, and a majority of our clients are in New York and Los Angeles, two hot zones. Our job typically is to help bring stories to the world, but now we have to be very careful not to be the story or contribute to virus spread. The television industry is usually quite sexy, but this isn't sexy at all."
? Patrick Bryant, EO Charleston, founder, Go To Team
"In the entertainment space, our reopening strategies include sanitization and social distancing measures, as well as a new decontamination unit using UV light to sanitize helmets after each use. We've also implemented:
- Hourly cleaning of high-contact areas
- Floor markings to encourage safe social distancing
- Menus sanitized after each use
- No bar seating; guests must take food and drinks back to a table
- Offering gloves for use in the arcade--both adult and child sizes"
"In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria taught us a lesson or two about adapting to volatile situations beyond our control. It's critical that we maintain open communication and ensure the physical and emotional well-being of our most valued resource, our employees. As we anticipate returning to the office, we've implemented extensive safety protocols. These include monitoring employee temperatures, providing and requiring protective face masks, disinfecting surfaces regularly and installing a hand disinfection station outside the front door. We'll be flexible to accommodate family issues and other ongoing challenges resulting from COVID-19. Returning to the office will be the first step toward the new normal, and perhaps we'll arrive a little wiser, stronger and more empathetic."
? Carlos M. Meléndez, EO Puerto Rico, co-founder and COO of Wovenware
"We expect a gradual opening of the economy, and so we expect revenue to ramp back up gradually. We've adopted new processes to maintain social distancing while operating. Specifically, we now:
- Offer virtual repair estimates
- Utilize electronic paperwork, payments and signatures
- Offer pick-up and drop-off for all repairs
- Mandate that employees wear masks and gloves at all times
- Disinfect vehicles prior to and after completing repairs
- Bake every vehicle in our paint booths at 160°F for 20 minutes during the repair process
- No longer allow outsiders in our buildings
These practices will remain in place until we are comfortable that we can safely return to regular human interactions."
? Tom Bemiller, EO Philadelphia, founder and CEO of The Aureus Group
"We're a service industry business, where we physically interact with people, so our reopening strategy is intense. We implemented a three-week process during which stylists came into the salon in 45-minute shifts to sanitize and organize their work stations. As we reopen, all stylists must wear masks and gloves and maintain a six-foot social distance at all times. We've ordered additional cutting capes and masks that can be washed and sanitized. Guests will remain in the same chair during their entire appointment and must wear masks throughout. We will use every-other stylist chair and shampoo bowl to maintain social distancing. We no longer accept walk-ins, and we are limiting the number of guests in our salons at one time. We've extended work hours to allow stylists the opportunity to see more guests. And, of course, every stylist must disinfect their chair, shampoo area, rolley cart, shampoo bowl, and tray after each guest."