Reopening Your Commercial Property After Lockdown: A Checklist

It’s a very exciting time for thousands of Scottish businesses as we slowly start to work through the stages of lifting lockdown.

While there are a few weeks yet until the majority of premises will resume trading, that means time is short to work on cleaning and reopening sites that have been closed for most of the last year.

For many businesses, especially smaller traders, there is much to do. From erecting social distancing barriers to deep cleaning, repairing winter damage, to changing working processes – but it remains essential to ensure your premises are in perfect condition for the long-awaited reopening date.

Here we’ll recap the essential steps to make sure your commercial property is ready to go.

office buildings

  1. Conduct COVID-19 Site-Specific Risk Assessments

The first thing to consider is how your business trades and whether you need to implement new safety controls or visitor management processes to comply with social distancing and workforce protection guidelines.

For example:

  • Are you open to the public?
  • Do you require a one-way system?
  • Will staff require PPE?
  • Can you restrict the number of people on-site at any one time?
  • Is there space for social distancing?
  • Do you need safety screens or face shields?
  • Are any objects handled manually by multiple people?
  • Is there enough hand sanitiser or cleaning stations?

Risk assessments are a great way of identifying the changes that need to be made. Also, it’s an excellent time to consult with your staff to see if they have suggestions, ideas or concerns that can be accommodated far more quickly now than after trading has resumed.

  1. Review Your Working Policies

Much depends on your business’s nature and the layout of your site, but you may need to look at rotas, shift patterns, and to balance some staff still working from home.

That could mean reopening some parts of your premises and leaving some vacant, rearranging desks and workspaces to ensure there is plenty of room, or restructuring working patterns to avoid having everyone on site at the same times.

Some steps are relatively easy to implement and could drastically reduce the risk level:

  • Staggering opening times or staff arrival times.
  • Limiting face-to-face interactions wherever possible.
  • Using fixed teams, so staff are constantly working with the same colleagues.
  • Installing screens or barriers to protect workers.
  • Adding floor tape, signs or markings to remind customers and staff about appropriate distances, one-way systems and waiting areas.

Again, by communicating with staff and sharing ideas, you might be able to collaborate to find ideal solutions that ensure your business can resume regular trading in a way that prioritises the safety of your staff and customers.

  1. Property Maintenance and Cleaning

Finally, if your premises have been closed for several months, it is essential to schedule a deep clean and site risk assessment before your reopening date.

According to empty property experts Clearway Scotland Multiple potential hazards and maintenance jobs arise when a property is left vacant, even if security systems have remained in place throughout:

  • Heating, electricity and water should be turned on well in advance, with each appliance or piece of equipment tested to ensure there is enough time to book repairs where needed.
  • Water pipes may contain stagnant water and must be thoroughly flushed, with the potential need for a legionella test, crucial if you supply food, drinks, or staff use water fountains.
  • Dust, dirt, cobwebs and insects are all likely to have accumulated. A comprehensive deep clean is vital, along with airing out the building and checking for any pest infestations that need treating.
  • If the premises have been in use during the lockdown, or you are open to potentially vulnerable customers, an anti-viral fogging treatment may be more efficient than a manual deep clean.
  • Check that the security system, alarms, and sensors are all working correctly, and book in a service or repair works straight away if any problems are found.

As well as ensuring the property itself is safe to return to, it’s essential to be clear about any changes made for returning workers and customers alike.

For most businesses, that might mean client communication, such as sending out notices, putting up signs and sharing on social media how things may have changed a little since you were last open.

It’s also about ongoing processes and training staff to ensure each worker understands new policies such as hand washing, using shared equipment, and working in a static workspace.

By prepping your premises, conducting a thorough clean and risk assessment, and consulting your teams on what changes are required, you will be ready and waiting for the big reopening day.