As the U.S. slowly starts to transition into reopening, many business owners are anticipating big changes—a new normal. While nobody can know for sure how things will turn out, today we want to spend some time pondering what the post-coronavirus business world might look like.

What might reopening look like for businesses?

Because of the governing system in the U.S., reopening will look quite different—and take place on a different schedule—from one state to another.  Some states have already started easing restrictions, while others continue to hunker down under stay-at-home orders.

Additionally, reopening will not happen all at once. It will certainly not be like a light switch just flicking back on. Rather, the reopening process will be long and slow, with certain businesses or services phased in at different times, based on government-guided criteria.

Even after the reopening begins, it is a definite possibility that we will experience a second wave of infections. If this occurs, it will likely impact government reopening policies, perhaps even causing the reopening to recede for some time.

How will the workplace look different after reopening?

There are a number of areas where permanent change to the workplace is a definite possibility. These are what we see as some of the likely impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses:

  1. New health and safety measures – Companies will need to make safety and cleanliness highly visible in the wake of the pandemic. Business owners and managers should make strong plans for making their place of work more secure for both workers and customers—for everyone who might visit.
  2. New demands for work flexibility – As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, workplace flexibility that was previously considered impossible has been demonstrated to, in fact, be quite possible. This means that many employees may call for a continuation of the flexible hours and remote work options that they have had for the last couple of months. Some employers might find that the financial benefits of continuing to allow their teams to work from home are well worth it.
  3. New scheduling policies – If you have not already considered how you might space out your employees once the workplace reopens, now is the time to get on that. Some employers are implementing split shifts in order to have fewer people in the office at once. The future may hold fewer jobs with the regular 9-to-5 hours to which many are accustomed.
  4. New demand for hazard pay and sick leave – The legislation of family and sick leave policies during this pandemic may have a lasting impact. In light of the fact that a situation such as this is a reality, employees may start to seek employers who put a higher emphasis on policies that include strong leave policies and hazard or premium pay. Employees with particularly high exposure risks (e.g., workers in retail, restaurants, and other service areas) are more likely to demand increased pay during times of risk.

We are in uncharted waters, but we are not without direction. While we do not know exactly how the new business world will look, as the U.S. slowly reopens a clearer picture will start to form. We encourage you to reach out to your Blackman & Sloop accounting advisor to discuss what you can do to get your business on the firmest footing possible as you approach returning to the workplace.