Many organizations are thinking about what life might look like beyond COVID-19. We’re sharing practical insight on how to navigate and plan for reopening your business using the president’s most recent guidelines.

Employer strategies

Open for Business: Preparing for Life After COVID-19

  • John Richter
  • John Langan
  • 4/21/2020

Key insights

  • The president’s most recent guidelines recommend that governors follow a phased approach when reopening their states.
  • While these guidelines are being implemented at the state and local levels, organizations can consider various capital- and workforce-related planning measures to ease the transition.

On April 16, President Trump issued guidelines empowering governors to reopen their states. The guidelines detail a three-stage process that establishes benchmarks for proceeding. The benchmarks include meeting the following milestones at either a state or regional level:

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  • Downward trend in symptoms over a
    14-day period
  • Downward trend in actual cases over a
    14-day period
  • Hospitals able to treat all patients and have robust testing for at-risk health care workers

Navigating the reopening process

The expectation is that we’ll phase back into the new “normal.” Think of opening the economy as a dimmer switch rather than a light switch. The White House provided employers the following guidelines for the phases. (Note there are additional guidelines for specific types of employers, such as schools, senior living providers, bars, etc.)

All Phases Phase One Phase Two Phase Three
  • Develop policies for social distancing, cleaning, business travel, and other areas
  • Monitor workforce for indicative symptoms
  • Develop policies for contact tracing following positive COVID-19 test
  • Encourage telework
  • Return to work in phases
  • Close common areas or enforce strict protocols
  • Minimize nonessential travel
  • Special accommodations for members of a vulnerable population
  • Encourage telework
  • Close common areas or enforce moderate protocols
  • Nonessential travel can resume
  • Special accommodations for members of a vulnerable population
  • Resume unrestricted staffing of worksites

Implementation steps for main street America

We need to stay the course and continue to plan for multiple scenarios. Most parts of the country are experiencing a slowing pace of new
COVID-19 cases. The guidelines acknowledge that, and each part of the country must consider its specific situation. As you consider next steps, here are a few critical items to keep in mind.

Plan capital carefully

  • While current funding for the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program have been exhausted, continue to position your organization to take advantage of potential future appropriations. If you are an eligible entity, continue working with your bank to get in line for the PPP and have everything ready to apply for an EIDL. If and when Congress passes a bill, you want to be ready.
  • Take advantage of alternative funding sources such as the Main Street Lending Program or various state, local, and association funding. Programs and details continue to be crafted and released each day.
  • Cash flow planning is critical during the dip caused by COVID-19. Develop a plan for a staged reopening and understand how your business could be impacted under multiple scenarios. Make sure your plan sizes your business for your best estimate of a new normal.

Pay close attention to the guidance from your state and local authorities as you plan to reopen

  • This will look different depending where your organization is located. The process will be similar, but the timing could be slower in some parts of the country.
  • Consider these points:
    • A rolling re-entry may make sense, especially for a geographically dispersed enterprise
    • The new workplace will be more mobile and flexible than it was prior to COVID-19
    • Accommodating vulnerable people will be especially important throughout the process
    • HR policies and employee engagement strategies need to be reviewed and adjusted to accommodate the different phases of ramping up your human capital
    • Recruitment strategies will adapt to be more virtual and proactive

How we can help

While both COVID-19 and its economic impact dominate our attention, it is critical to look forward as our nation gets back to work. A plan that considers the federal, state, and local guidance and your specific situation will highlight appropriate options, providing your organization and its workforce with a perspective on the future and, perhaps, a place for optimism. None of us has all the answers today, but a scenario-driven plan will position you to take appropriate action at each step to emerge strong and ready to rebuild.

As always, CLA is here to understand your specific circumstances and customize solutions to help you navigate COVID-19 resources like PPP, EIDL and Main Street lending assistance. CLA Intuition 2.0 scenario planning and decision making modeling can help you chart your course to sustainability and growth.

CLA has developed resources to help you lay out a strategy to put your organization on its toes versus its heels. Bookmark our financial management and disaster relief resource page to stay current on these issues.

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