As of the writing of this blog post, nearly 97 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. That’s almost 30% of the population and states are slowly loosening up restrictions as the percentage of people who are vaccinated increases. That means it’s only a matter of time before employees and customers start venturing back to offices.
Whether your main concern is your customers or your employees (or both!), here are a few of our top tips to get you started.
A full list of up-to-date guidelines and protocols can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
As a mortgage broker or loan originator, trust is an essential part of the process, from your borrower trusting that you are handling their loan with care to trusting that you will be available when they need you. And in times of COVID-19, that also means trusting that your office will be a safe place.
Most of us know the drill by now when it comes to cleanliness: Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, wipe down high-touch and shared surfaces after each customer, and consider having hand sanitizer readily available in multiple locations throughout the office. The CDC recommends hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol. Many companies have started giving out branded hand sanitizer wipes or small hand sanitizer bottles that customers can take with them.
When and where you have to wear a mask varies by state to state, but the general CDC guidelines still recommend wearing a mask when you’re inside and/or around people who aren’t in your immediate family. It should cover your mouth and nose. Consider having disposable masks available near the front door for customers who may have forgotten theirs. Even better? Give away branded masks with your logo on them!
Keep Your Distance
The best practice here is to keep at least six feet of distance in between you and people you don’t live with. Arrange your customer interaction space with 6 ft of distance in mind, whether it’s moving chairs around in your conference room or installing clear plexiglass barriers to help your customers feel more comfortable. (Don’t forget to wipe them off frequently!)
Give Your Customers Swag
Instead of worrying about cleaning pens after each customers, provide them with their very own branded pen. They don’t have to be anything fancy—look for some inexpensive branded ballpoint pens online.
Use Online Scheduling
Have customers set up their own appointments with an online tool like Calendly. This allows them to see what works best for their schedule and gives them the flexibility to adjust as needed.
As a business owner, you undoubtedly want to keep your employees happy and healthy as they return to the office to conduct business. The above recommendations apply to both customers and employees, but there are some additional considerations.
People are still getting sick from COVID-19, so plan on being flexible if employees need to work from home to take care of family members, watch their children if daycare closes down, or if they get exposed/sick themselves. Some people may not feel comfortable coming back to the office yet, so it can also be helpful to offer a flexible work schedule.
Being flexible also means preparing for a reduced capacity at your office. Perhaps you have to rotate staff so that people aren’t all there at the same time. You may want to have a plan for the number of employees and customers that can be there are once.
As employees get the vaccine, especially the second dose if applicable, they may need to take time off to recover from the side effects. Side effects typically resolve themselves within 1-2 days.
While the data shows that things are trending in a positive direction with COVID-19, a little planning ahead will keep you, your employees, and your customers comfortable and healthy.
Have Alternative Work Spaces
If you like in a moderate climate, set up an outdoor space for employees to work at or meet customers by purchasing inexpensive patio furniture. If possible, open windows and get some airflow throughout the office (possibly even instead of using air conditioning, which will save money, too!).
Regardless of what you choose to do, be sure to communicate openly and often to keep your employees in the loop of new policies or changes in COVID-19 protocols.