The global pandemic that is the COVID-19 phenomenon is just one coronavirus that lived up to the hype. Before COVID-19 there was SARS and MERSA, both of which had a lot of press at the time but never reached the global pandemic status that COVID-19 has. This unusual pandemic has opened up original ways of working around the restrictions that result from public health scares.
While the worst affected industries have been those that deliver in-person services, retail businesses have also had to find alternative solutions to a problem that never existed before. A lesson to we can learn from the worldwide economic closures is that working around restrictions and implementing alternative modes of working is the only way to ensure that economies stay active, and people keep their jobs.
The Near Future of Restricted Contact
The fact remains that for the near future, we will have to live with the COVID-19 virus. While infection rates will drop, it won’t completely disappear. Until there is an approved vaccination available, this novel coronavirus will be something that we have to consider in our everyday lives. For that reason, we will need to be very aware of our actions, movements and our contacts.
Just like the annual flu seasons that come and go with little hype, the Covid-19 virus is likely to do the same, at approximately the same times. While vulnerable groups can easily access an annual flu vaccine, they probably won’t be able to do the same with a coronavirus vaccination until some time in 2021.
Until we have ways to combat this insidious virus that hides in non-symptomatic people, we all need to be wary and cautious of how our actions will affect our more susceptible friends, loved ones, and even colleagues.
Working around seasonal outbreaks of a disease to which we have no defence or cure will be down to the ways we conduct ourselves and our businesses. There’s no economy strong enough to withstand multiple lockdowns per year, and very few of us would want to go through this isolation and restricted movement again.
The way to prevent economic, social and personal meltdown is to devise and implement methods that can control and manage our interactions. Maintaining specific measures, either ‘as standard’ or easily accessed when necessary, means that should the need arise, you can automatically fall into an alternative mode of working, while also keeping people safe.
Adhering to Restriction Measures – Keeping Everyone Safe in Stores
If supermarkets, pharmacies, and other essential retail outlets can implement strategies to restrict numbers and maintain effective social distancing, why can’t the non-essential retailers do the same? The fact is that they can.
Working around restrictions such as reduced capacity, increased sanitation and minimised contact is easy when you can schedule your shoppers. Some interesting side effects of reducing store capacity and scheduling appointments for customers can be; improved customer service, shorter checkout queues, and better staff organisation.
For an apparel retailer, this could mean scheduling a member of staff to steam-clean clothing items that customers have tried on, another to ensure high touch areas are clean and sanitised, and another two to provide quick and efficient check out processes. Could reduced store customer capacity give you the potential to offer style or speciality clothing consultations?
While maintaining safe distancing, ensuring sanitised surfaces and fabrics, and using suitable protective measures such as gloves and masks, you create an environment that is both safe and accessible. You also ensure that your business continues to operate, take money, and possibly even fill a new niche in your area.
If scheduled retail therapy could work for your business, check out this video, or our article here
Services – Working Around The Distance and Contact Restrictions
Services cover such a broad range of industries, from medical to physical fitness, business consultation to spiritual coaching, and beauty treatments to education.
Hands-on treatment services will always suffer from the effects of social distancing and contact restrictions. However, mitigating the risks of infection by reducing simultaneous client admission, increased sanitation measures, and insisting on personal protective gear for clients and staff, you can also stick to the rules for minimising the spread of disease. Building extra time into your schedule to allow for the sanitising of affected areas is just a small step to ensure client safety and reassurance.
Consultations, tutoring, coaching and even initial triage for medical appointments can all benefit from remote video calling. These are services that, while perhaps better in person, can still be just as functional over a video call. Everyone keeps their distance and your business flourishes. You might even expand your business both online and in-person, reaching clients well beyond your original boundaries.
See how you can implement video calling as part of an organised appointment booking system.
Not just for COVID-19
Think about the millions of vulnerable groups who should continue self-isolating. While many countries have already begun their lockdown easing process (after six weeks we’re all ready for it), there are still millions of people in the “vulnerable” category that should self-isolate for another six weeks.
By maintaining an environment with strict social distancing and sanitation measures, you make life “out of the home” much safer for your vulnerable customers, both now and going forward.
Another eye-opening lesson that we should take to heart is that education CAN happen in virtual classrooms. Sick kids don’t need to go to school to keep up with their education. Imagine a Zoom call: a teacher with pupils in a classroom, and absent kids at home, learning and able to interact with the teacher.
Future-Proofing for Potential Outbreaks to Come
While this COVID-19 has caused a global upheaval not seen for over a century, since the Spanish flu pandemic, there is no guarantee that another highly infectious and fatal disease won’t show up sooner than 2120. Making plans to get through this pandemic, and implementing processes that will make lockdown for a later outbreak unnecessary, will help to future-proof your business from another period of imposed lockdown or client-loss.
Technology has advanced far enough to help us to keep going. Hardware and software solutions to social distancing, remote working, and keeping in contact are what will keep companies, societies and economies moving in times of public health crisis.
Working around restrictions to movement and contact isn’t cheating, it’s providing an alternative to economic suicide for countries all over the world. If you can prove your commitment to adhering to the rules and minimising the risk of infection, you provide a reason for keeping your doors open and your business thriving.
COVID-19 has been devastating economically, personally, socially, mentally, and fatally. However, we have learned some lessons about personal conduct and how we operate our businesses. Restricted movement and contact isn’t the end of the world or your business. Working around the restrictions with alternative modes of operation is the way to go.