Bringing Guests and Staff Back To Your Business After a COVID-19 Shutdown

Bringing Guests and Staff Back To Your Business After a COVID-19 Shutdown

RCM&D has designed a comprehensive Back to Business Playbook for the Hospitality Industry. This playbook aims to assist in developing a tailored plan for bringing back your full workforce and guest population. If you would like to receive a copy of this report, please complete the form at the bottom of this page and an RCM&D advisor will contact you. The RCM&D team is available to help review your existing plan, offer enhancement and verification, or even to help you build a customized plan tailored to your operations.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses were forced to alter their operations as the majority of Americans were under stay-at-home orders. As many states and local jurisdictions begin relaxing these orders, the hospitality industry is preparing to welcome guests under a new set of “norms and expectations” as a result of the virus. As owners and managers in the hospitality industry, the steps you take over the next few months will be extremely important to reassure your guests and staff that measures have been implemented to ensure their health and safety.

Below, we offer a concise but effective overview of necessary considerations to ensure a safe return to operations for your facility.

Undertaking a Phased Approach

A phased approach to resuming operations and returning the workforce is recommended. There are no certainties regarding when government bans will be lifted.

At first, consider which operations are vital to the business as well as the staff needed to support these operations. Return key staff in staggered stages in accordance with federal, state and local guidance.

Assemble a Task Force

As you begin to consider resuming operations, establish a task force or committee to facilitate and vet the back-to-business plan. The task force should be comprised of employees representing all major functions of the hotel or facility, serving as the overarching group to guide decision-making and subsequently funnel information to division or department-level committees.

Key Considerations for Returning To the Workplace

It’s all about risk, and not the type of safety risks that we typically contemplate. It is imperative to follow the advice of risk control specialists to help assess and control the risk of infection in your facility.

Some key considerations for returning to the workplace include:

  • Naming leadership for overseeing preventive hygiene measures
  • Establishing new guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting
  • Conducting temperature checks
  • Rearranging common areas
  • Preparing electronic equipment for staff
  • Establishing guidelines for guests who may become ill

Preparing the Facility

During the COVID-19 pandemic, your building may have been completely vacant or operating with a skeleton crew and/or at limited occupancy. It is recommended to perform thorough inspections or assessments before allowing employees and guests to return.

Some considerations while preparing a facility should include:

  • Inspections and maintenance of all major systems including mechanical and HVAC, water systems, fire and life safety, and medical equipment and devices.
  • Posting signage to promote proper handwashing techniques, respiratory etiquette (covering cough/sneeze) and avoidance of face touching.
  • Determine physical changes that should be made to the facility to ensure proper hygienic and social distancing practices are followed.

Proper cleaning and disinfection of guest rooms and common areas at your facility is critical to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Whether you were shut down, used your facility for housing essential health care workers, or were open for regular business, you’ll need to consider your enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols for the next phase of your return to operations.

Educating and equipping staff with the proper tools and supplies to regularly clean and disinfect high-touch areas is a must. Additionally, the removal of unnecessary items in guest’s rooms or common areas should be considered when preparing a facility.

Preparing Operations

When preparing a facility to resume operations, guidelines and considerations should be set for the following topics:

  • Social distancing
  • The impact on amenities (valet, bellhop, business centers, etc.)
  • Circulation patterns
  • Posting signage mandating social distancing, face coverings, hand sanitation, etc.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Vendors/Contractors


The return to work will most likely prompt different means in which employees interact with each other. This could induce stress, anxiety and inefficiencies if not well planned. It’s important to establish clear and frequent communication with employees.

Additionally, it is important to communicate with guests and staff that all policy changes and preventive measures are being taken in your facility.

Preparing the Workforce

The health and well-being of staff should be at the forefront of any return-to-work plan.

It is imperative to set guidelines and considerations for the following:

  • Attendance (Includes employees who may be uncomfortable returning as well as PTO and sick time)
  • Adding to staff
  • Temperature checks
  • Educating employees on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as ensuring employees are aware of the symptoms of COVID-19
  • Establishing protocol for employees who may be sick
  • Questions to ask employees who may be sick
  • Employee training
  • Staff meetings

Housekeeping/Cleaning Services

Policies for worker protection and training should be provided to all cleaning staff onsite prior to performing cleaning tasks.

Training programs should include the following topics:

  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • OSHA & CDC guidelines
  • Cleaning & disinfection
  • Disinfection after confirmed positive COVID-19 cases
  • Cleaning electronics
  • Laundry
  • Trash pick-up

Additional Considerations

In addition to the topics listed above, guidelines and considerations should be made for the following areas:

  • Front Desk
    • Space front desk employees at least six feet apart, or install Plexiglas® screens between front desk workstations. In addition, install Plexiglas® screens between front desk personnel and guests.
    • Address the use of common equipment, including printers, copiers, fax machines, etc., accessed by front desk staff. Provide sanitizer for use by employees (between guests) and for use by guests upon check-in and check-out.
  • Food & beverage
    • Discontinue stocking “grab and go” stations with complimentary fruit, cookies, etc. If you wish to continue offering such items, have staff hand them out to guests.
    • If possible, encourage guests to use room service.
  • Pools & spas
    • According to the CDC, there is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas or water-oriented play areas. However, high-touch areas in pool and spa areas need to be cleaned regularly.
  • Fitness centers
    • Place markers on the floor to indicate where residents can stand to remain six feet apart.
    • It is suggested for a contracting company to come in weekly at minimum for a deep cleaning of fitness facilities.
  • Playgrounds
    • High-touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, such as grab bars and railings should be cleaned routinely.
    • Regular housekeeping staff can clean and disinfect community spaces. Ensure they are trained on appropriate use of cleaning and disinfection chemicals.
  • Security staff
    • Consider positioning security personnel at entry points and clearly define their roles and responsibilities, which may include enforcing the use of face masks/coverings in lobbies and common areas.
  • Engineering
    • Place sign on guest room door indicating that Engineering staff is inside. Indicate the time started and the anticipated finish time. Ask guests to knock before entering to ensure that Engineering has completed its work.
  • Transportation (If facility provides shuttle services and/or pool cars)
    • Mandate the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for drivers and passengers.
    • Add a partition between the driver and passengers.
  • Meetings & events
    • Sales staff shall ensure that event participants comply with social distancing recommendations.
    • Evaluations of room capacity should be completed to identify the maximum number of participants who can safely social distance.
    • Meeting and banquet set-up arrangements should allow for physical distancing between guests in all meetings and events based on CDC and state recommendations.
  • Golf facilities
    • The following should be implemented for players on the course:
      • Hand sanitizer stations along the course.
      • If you maintain a clubhouse or refreshment stand, allow for take-out only.
      • Each group should proceed to the first tee five minutes prior to tee time.
      • Remind players to stay at least six feet from each other.

Business Recovery Cycle

The business recovery cycle pictured below is a continuous cycle of evaluating and controlling risk as well as assessing your performance. This can be measured by the number of employees who become ill, how well you service your customers and other metrics. Your back to business plan may need to be revised to accommodate new risks and controls. You may need to revert back to reduced operations. It will be important for your task force to identify the triggers that will impact your plan and react accordingly.

Business Recovery Cycle

We’re Here To Help

RCM&D’s risk consulting team is highly experienced in developing back to business plans for organizations of all types and sizes. Whether you are a fully operational facility bringing back ancillary services or a fully remote workforce returning to onsite operations, we’re here to help you identify your route to reopening by:

Developing Internal Programs

We can develop or review custom internal programs targeted for your specific facilities, employees and operations.

Implementing Infection Control Protocols

Ensure that you are able to not only prevent exposure but also identify, isolate and sanitize in the event of a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case.

Social Distance Heat Mapping

Identify areas within your facility that may be a concern for effective social distancing measures. Using those insights, we can help you mitigate concerns through appropriate intervention techniques.