A communications guide and template signage for businesses amidst reopening

This communications guide was originally published as part of the Canadian Chamber’s in-depth CBRN Reopening Toolkit for Business.

Communications is always important to ensure your staff, customers, suppliers and the general public understand the situation, what your business has to offer and what to expect from your business. This is especially true during times of crisis when there is a great deal of uncertainty.

This section of the toolkit provides guidance, examples and access to ready-made posters and graphics as well as a template you can customize for your own needs.

This advice contained in this section will likely need to be customized for your specific operation.

A Communications Guide

The goals of your communications activities are:

  • To ensure your staff, customers and suppliers have a clear understanding of the situation and rules that are in place.
  • To explain the roles, responsibilities and procedures your staff, customers and suppliers must abide by.
  • To provide confidence that your business is being safely operated.

Your audiences for these communications are:

  • Your staff, including volunteers and family members lending a hand.
  • Your customers.
  • Your suppliers, including couriers and other delivery services.

Depending on the nature of your business, you likely have numerous communications channels at your disposal to convey the required information, including:

  • A staff email list and phone numbers.
  • A customer email list or newsletter.
  • A supplier email list and phone numbers.
  • Direct mail or unaddressed ad mail.
  • Social media.
  • Traditional paid advertising (billboards, newspaper, TV, radio, etc.)
  • Space inside or around your business for signage.

For internal communications with your staff, consider sending an email outlining:

  • The procedures they will need to follow.
  • How they can respond to questions from customers and suppliers.
  • How they can address customers and suppliers who may not be following the health and safety procedures.
  • How they can participate in ensuring a safe environment for staff, customers and suppliers alike.

In addition to the email, it may also be advisable to conduct a teleconference or video conference with staff prior to their arrival on site in order to provide additional re-orientation and address any questions or concerns they may have, including about proper PPE usage. When onsite, conduct a walk-through with staff and highlight any changes from previous operations.

Finally, signage/posters in staff areas of your business can provide guidance and reminders related to proper hygiene, social distancing and PPE usage. Template and ready-made posters are provided below.

For external communications with customers and suppliers, much of the same health and safety information and procedural instructions must be conveyed. In your communications with customers, consider being proactive in an email or newsletter and on your website and social media ahead of your reopening.

Tell customers and suppliers:

  • When you will be reopening.
  • Your hours of operation.
  • The rules they will need to follow and any impacts this may have on your services.

Providing clear expectations and practical instructions ahead of time will help ensure everyone is on the same page, avoid disappointment if there are some service disruptions and help enable smooth operations.

Additional signage/posters in your business are also important to ensure everyone onsite has important information readily available about procedures (for example, where to form socially distant lines at the checkout counter) and health and safety protections (such as the use of PPE, hand sanitizer stations and social distancing). Remember that not everyone visiting your operation will have seen your proactive communications.

If you have the budget and/or capacity, consider also including this information in any flyers or print advertising your business is using.

As the pandemic continues and the rules in place change, follow-up communications with staff, customers and suppliers will likely be required through the same channels outlined above. Additionally, it may be helpful to provide a Q&A or Frequently Asked Questions document, if you find you or your staff are regularly being asked similar questions as the situation carries on.

Above all, work to ensure your staff, customers and suppliers are informed about what is going on and how they can contribute to a successful outcome. It is important for everyone to be aware that we are all in this together.

Template and Ready-made Signage

Making use of clear, highly visible signage within your business to promote good health and safety practices is important to providing a safe environment for your staff, your customers, your suppliers and yourself. It is likely appropriate to post signage in both staff and public areas to ensure everyone onsite is aware of important health and safety information in all areas of your facility.

Signage may also be used to help explain procedures that are in place to allow your business to operate amid COVID-19, including basic information such as the location of hand sanitizer stations, where to form lines and reminders to respect social distancing measures.

In posting signage, it is good to remember to ensure signs:

  • Provide clear information using straightforward language.
  • Are easily legible.
  • Balance the need to provide sufficient information with the need to avoid a jumble.

Health and Safety Signage from the Government of Canada (PDFs):

Additional health and safety awareness graphics and information from the Government of Canada are available here.

Operations Signage from CBRN (right click on preferred format and select ‘Save Target As…’):

Need more support? Access the full CBRN Reopening Toolkit for Business.