As we prepare to return to work, as business owners it is our responsibility to be as best prepared as we can be and also to be accepting of the fact that we now have a new working environment and a member on our working team – COVID-19. It is unfortunately our new reality and we must deal with it.
Today we take a look at 2 issues that are of utmost importance as prepare to return to work, re-open our doors and welcome back our clients.
COVID-19 will impact on our working capacity within our salons, barber shops, nail bars and all other outlet types within the hair and beauty industry.
In one of our recent daily tasks, you have been tasked with completing a Risk Assessment of your organisation and outlet.
As part of this we are asked to consider Physical Distancing and Sanitation in the workplace as new requirements. Both of which will impact on our CAPACITY to service our clients.
Introduction of physical distancing measures currently requires a minimum of 2m distance throughout the work space. (There is ongoing discussion that this 2m may in time be reduced to 1m which is in line with the WHO guidance. For now, salons, barber shops, spas and all outlet types within the Hair and Beauty Industry should work on a 2m basis in the knowledge that this may be reduced.) A 2m physical distance is obviously not achievable during treatments between your staff member and the client. However it should be implemented across all spaces within salon where possible, with particular attentions to the: entrance to your outlet, reception area, your treatment area, basin areas where relevant, stockroom, canteen, delivery area etc.
In settings where 2 metre employee separation cannot be ensured by organisational means, maintain at least a distance of 1 metre or as much distance as is reasonably practicable. Where physical distance cannot be maintained alternative protective measures should be put in place.
- All employees, customers and visitors should be advised to stay home if they are feeling symptomatic and follow HSE guidelines on self-isolation.
- Clients that attend for appointments should be screened; all clients should be asked the COVID-19 questions
- Minimise the number of individuals in your workplace to ensure that adequate social distance can be maintained.
- Allocate specific times for appointments, collections and deliverables where practicable.
- Only the responsible employees and respective client should approach each other for the duration of the service.
- Observe the current government and NPHET guidelines4 on face-masks.
- Provide one way systems for access/egress routes in the workplace where practicable.
- The consultations and service should be performed as much as practicable from the back of the client’s head.
- The professional should maximise their body position as much as possible to increase the physical distance from the client.
- Metre marker, barrier tape, floor marking and signage should be used to ensure social distancing is maintained. Resources HERE5.
- Display the signage on the COVID-19 measures in visible locations to ensure that customers are also adhering to what is required.
The Implications on Capacity While Respecting Social Distancing
To respect the social distancing rules, it is necessary to ORGANISE THE PEOPLE FLOW in the salon. You should consider the following options:
- Re-organise the styling/ treatment stations – have greater gaps/space between them or leave certain stations empty to respect the distancing rules.
- If you want to keep a waiting area, you need to be sure your surface is large enough to respect social distancing, if not you can establish a queuing system or waiting zone outside if someone arrives early for their appointment. In that case you must mark out this zone or appropriate spacing using tape on the ground so it is clear for clients where they would need to wait.
- Consider getting clients to arrive for their appointment, waiting in their car until you have phoned to let them know you are now ready for them to safely enter the building in a controlled manner.
- Revise your operating policies/procedures and risk assessment to reflect the impact of COVID-19.
Establish hand-washing areas. Ensure that there is a sanitation area on arrival and throughout the salon. Where possible it is better to have access to a sink and running water, however where this is not possible please establish designated sanitation zones, which are monitored for social distancing.
Frequently Asked Question? How many people can I have in my building?
There is no magical number of people you can have on your premises; this will be based on:
- The size of your outlet
- The lay out of your outlet
- 2 metre social distance (current recommendation)
Every premises is different, so this will have to be worked out on the above criteria.
Top tip, if you are a visual person, get a measuring tape and some chalk and try to work this out in a practical way.
Additional Considerations as you Calculate and Maximise Your New Capacity
For some establishments, Zoning may present a sensible solution. Zoning your premises is where the outlet is divided into Zones which are clearly identified. This could be as simple as placing a zone number or colour on the section or treatment room or it could go as far as marking out on the floor for all to see, it is up to you if you wish to implement zoning with in your premises.
Zoning also sounds more complicated than it actually is, in fact many businesses already have zoning in place. Think about how sections or treatment rooms are used, often the stylists, barber, technician or therapist works in a set spot in the salon. Zoning is putting a more formal structure on this and formally allocating a worker to each zone/ section/ or treatment area.
Things to consider:
- Work areas divided into zones, and should have personnel allocated to each zone
- Work areas divided into zones, and should have personnel allocated to each zone
- Zones could be identified by simply line marking, colour, number, section, etc
- Movement between zones should be minimised and controlled at all times
- Zoning can be used for reception area, stylist/barbers sections/ therapist rooms/ nail bar / backwash, staff-rooms, stockrooms etc
- Avoid allowing clients free access across the salon, mark off restricted areas of the salon that are for staff/ deliveries only.
- Consider a one-way system on access routes throughout the workplace where possible.
- Where practicable if there is two entry points, consider having one as an entrance and one as an exit to help establish a one-way system.
- Where a one-way system is not possible consider widening pedestrian routes and a “give and take” approach so social distancing can be maintained on main site walkways.
- Marked up walkways on the floor can help give an indication of what the recommended spacing looks like.
2. Team Rostering
Restructuring and Splitting Teams/Shifts
When rehiring you team, it is important to ensure that this is done in line with the new needs of your business and is justifiable in line with your revised business plan. When carrying out measures around HR that will impact the business or terms of employment it is highly recommended to engage with a HR expert.
HABIC understands that businesses in the hair and beauty industry vary substantially from 1 person teams to much larger teams. The following should be implemented where it is practicable to do so :
- Revision of staffing rosters and splitting of teams to ensure separation of personnel in order to limit joint exposure and protecting the business function
- Agree through negotiation with your team\trade unions changes to work patterns
- Avoid key employees working on the same shift.
- Cross-train, and identify alternative sources of labour to facilitate a full complement of the required skills needed on each team/shift
- Avoid switching of employees from one shift to another
- Implement a ‘gap’ between staff shifts to allow for cleaning and to avoid overpopulation of the workplace
- Identify and suspend all non-essential operations which do not directly impact business functionality
The important of splitting you team to ensure business continuity should not be underestimated, if (fingers crossed it doesn’t happen) but if there was ever a confirmed COVID-19 case that had been in your business and all your staff were were working together then it may be required that your entire team would be asked to self-isolate. This leaves your business in a very vulnerable position.
However, if you have split your team into two groups (eg; Team A and Team B) and they never work on the shame shift, then your business is less impacted by a requirement to self-isolate. Splitting your team will help protect your business and your ability to continue to trade. It is advisable to split your workers into a minimum of 2 teams.
Some examples of splitting a team are as follows.
- 3 days on and 4 days off and rotating every two weeks or monthly – working 12 hour shifts.
- 1 week on and 1 week off, rotating between teams every second week.
- Splitting the team into morning and evening shifts.
Some salons are choosing to open longer hours and across days, so they have less people in the building. There are options, you just have to find the right fit for your business. And remember, you are not alone. Consult with your industry peers and bounce ideas off each other. We wish you the very best.