Maintaining social distance can be challenging—and recently, it’s even become somewhat controversial. So how can you tactfully and effectively encourage customers and employees to maintain social distance from each other while they’re within your small business?

If you’re like many small business owners across the nation, business has been anything “but usual” over the past several months. Perhaps you are in a geographic area that has required your business to close its doors, and you’re just now reopening. Maybe you’ve been working to get assistance through a Small Business Association loan, the Paycheck Protection Program, or other forms of COVID-19 disaster relief. No matter your story and what recent challenges you’ve faced, one of your biggest responsibilities has likely become helping create and maintain a safe environment for your employees and customers.

Official recommendations for social distancing during COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the White House, and the World Health Organization have all published COVID-19 guidance for business owners. These include recommendations like wearing masks, promoting hand washing and sanitizing, allowing sick workers to stay home, and encouraging social distancing.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of social distancing—but many researchers, health organizations, and the government administration suggest that people should maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from each other to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. To successfully implement social distancing in your business, you’ll need to balance the wants and needs of workers and customers of all opinions—while still prioritizing safety first. Here are top tips on encouraging patrons and workers to maintain an appropriate social distance from each other while they are within your small business.

Top 20 tips for encouraging social distance in your small business

1. When possible, allow employees to work from home

2. Stagger shifts

3. Discourage employees from having personal visitors at work

4. Postpone non-essential business travel

5. Conduct meetings online rather than in person

6. Greet each other verbally instead of with a handshake or other physical contact

7. Post signs at your entrance and throughout that encourage maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from other people

8. Close employee cafeterias, break rooms, and other places workers congregate

9. Redesign or reroute areas customers gather

10. Add dividers, shields, partitions, and ropes where possible

11. Put space between desks

12. Avoid sharing elevators or other confined spaces

13. Use duct tape or floor stickers to mark the appropriate distance in waiting lines

14. Remind workers and customers that according to the CDC, social distancing does not replace the need to wear face coverings

15. Read OSHA’s guidance for businesses on other means of protection in addition to social distancing

16. Offer curbside pickup and online or touch-free ordering and payments

17. Consider asking workers and customers what else you can do to help them feel safe

18. Update your website and social media with social distancing and other COVID-19 policies

19. Send emails announcing your social distancing and COVID-19 policies for employees and customers

20. Thank your employees and your customers for their understanding and patience 


Thanks for reading our article posted on May 11, 2020. Please note that this content is intended for educational purposes only. As COVID-19 laws and funding change regularly, you should refer to your state legislation and/or an advisor for specific legal counsel. See more small business resources or check your current rate in 3 minutes.

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