Last week I took a stroll to my local Duane Reade to replenish some of our quarantine essentials: almond milk, eggs, and Cheerios. I arrived at the door only to be told by a security guard that I wouldn’t be allowed in because I wasn’t wearing a mask.
My first thought - I am a dope and forgot my mask in the stroller.
The very nice security guard was apologetic for turning me away (although I reiterated it was 100% my fault) and said he wished he had extra masks to offer. He also wondered why gloves weren’t required since everyone tends to touch things while they browse.
This seemingly small encounter got me thinking a lot about what life will look like as we slowly begin returning back to the workplace. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have heard a lot of speculation and read several great resources regarding how businesses are planning to reopen and manage their day-to-day operations. What is going to be required by law vs. what is going to be encouraged? Who is responsible for providing what in terms of PPE? How do we maintain adequate stock levels if supply is low or erratic for essential items?
Following my last post, our team received many thoughtful comments, questions, and suggestions in a similar vein. We have aggregated some of the top strategies here so you and your businesses can be best prepared for a successful reopening:
Start prepping - and potentially ordering - “reopen kits” now.
Depending on your budget, industry, and storage space, your specific product list will vary, but we have seen the greatest demand for 3-ply masks, disposable gloves, and hand sanitizer. In the near term, businesses indicated they will keep extra stock on hand to provide to employees and customers as they work towards more sustainable and long-term solutions.
Expand your vendor network, immediately, and maintain a nimble approach to ordering PPE.
You may not be in a position to wait until things come back in stock, so make sure you have access - at a reasonable price and lead time - to essential supplies.
Empower employees to purchase the products they need.
You want people (i.e. employees, customers) voicing their opinions on products needed, but you also have to be cognizant of tracking spend responsibly. For example, some companies may not be in a financial position to offer an unlimited amount of masks and sanitizers, but they are interested in increasing their PPE budget under certain circumstances. We are seeing more companies set up processes where multiple people in the organization can request purchases, and admins/managers can design workflows to approve, budget, and track spend.
Over communication is key.
Store, studio, and office operations teams are engaging their employees and loyal customers through open and consistent communication. We have heard a number of positive outcomes from folks who have crowdsourced feedback for creating a safe space, ranging from getting everyone on the same page to businesses implementing some really creative ideas (i.e. replacing vending machines with PPE to give people direct and convenient access to the things they need).
Keep the questions and comments coming! As always, please feel free to follow up with me directly if I can be helpful: firstname.lastname@example.org