Preparing Your Staff for Re-opening
May 11, 2020
Arts and cultural institutions around the world are preparing to reopen their doors as lockdown and closure mandates are gradually being lifted. Visitors are eager to get back to these inspiring and creative places, to fill their minds and souls with the arts and culture they have so been missing over the last few months. But what will the new normal look like once you open your doors? How do you begin to prepare your institution with all the necessary measures in place? There are a lot of things to consider: new safety guidelines, new operational procedures, but none of this can come without proper staffing.
One of the biggest impacts to institutions when the COVID pandemic hit was that they were forced to furlough or lay off a majority of their staff. Some institutions were able to continue to support their staff through closures, and reassigned them to new types of work and projects remotely.
When thinking about reopening your doors, make sure to put your people first. Equal to your guests, the safety and well being of your staff and volunteers should be of the utmost importance. Next, consider what job roles are essential to running your institution in this “new” fashion, as well as what is realistic and affordable from a business perspective. When thinking about bringing your staff back, take into account that not all of them will be able to return to work immediately. Like the rest of us, many are still dealing with the lack of childcare, available commuting options, health issues, and fear and concern for their own safety and the safety of their family upon returning to work. We have to remember that this is a scary and uncertain time and everyone is coping in their own way.
When contemplating how to re-staff your institution, think not only about how many employees you will need to bring back, but what your new operating plan will look like. You do not necessarily need more employees, you just need them in different places and performing different tasks than before. Some staffing requirements will include individuals at the front entrance to communicate to your visitors what new protocols and procedures are in place, staff to monitor and manage visitor flow at entrances and exits, staff to sanitize spaces and surfaces and undoubtedly, you will need staff to answer the abundance of questions that will come from your visitors regarding new safety measures, payment options, operating hours, etc.
So, you hire your staff back – great! Now you must start the training process. Treat them as if they are new employees starting fresh, because let’s be honest, this time and current way of living is new to us all. You will need to train them on the current sanitation and safety procedures, operational policies like capacity caps, access control, refunds and ticket purchasing options, how to communicate with your visitors and how to deal with visitors that are not compliant. You must also consider any new technology that you will have in place. Many institutions are adopting new technology to help manage visitor flow and reduce touch points so think about how long it will take and what resources you will need to train them on these new systems.
Most likely, your staff is still working remotely during all of this preparation. We have to remember that the majority of individuals are not used to working from home, or perhaps do not have access to all the technology or tools needed and lastly, some people are trying to balance work and childcare and may not be able to commit to specific meeting times. Pre-record training sessions that you can send to your staff to review when is convenient for them. For Q&A and live training sessions, use web conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts, and chat applications like Slack where you can have individual or group conversations and share documents and resources with one another. Always record your web-based training sessions so that you can send them to your staff to reference after, or watch at their convenience if they could not attend.
At ACME, we are currently helping Arts and Cultural organizations across the country prepare their staff to rapidly and successfully reopen their doors, so let us know if we can help you do the same.