The New Normal – Adapting to pandemic requirements

Where to start; the 2020 pandemic changed the world and the face of hospitality.  Hotels and Restaurants were closed or operating with reduced capacity. Millions of staff worldwide were laid off or placed on reduced salaries. To survive, everyone had to adapt to the new normal.

The ZOGO Consultants are proud to be part of an industry that worked hard to find solutions. Solutions to keep colleagues, vendors, and guests safe when the guidelines were continually changing as more information was released. 

The Centre for Disease Control, NSF, World Health Organizations provided continual updates as information changed. Cleaning and chemical suppliers such as Ecolab, Clorox, and Diversey, provided pandemic cleaning solutions. The hospitality industry shared knowledge and resources to make the guest’s stay and the work environment safe.

Adapting to the New Normal

With the ever-changing restrictions, how can any company stay safe and up to date. How can a company adapt to the latest requirements without confusing staff or customers?

Knowing your options is essential to peace of mind and a feeling of control during this time of uncertainty. It is clear now that some aspects of our industry have changed for good . Whereas other restrictive conditions will hopefully dissipate and go back to the operational standards we had in January 2020. To address this changing scheme, we recommend tackling this minute-to-minute shifting environment with an adaptable framework. This framework will cover every aspect of your operation and still flex and stay relevant through changing situations.

Our recommendation is to categorize your risk management measures based on the industry and local authorities’ recommendations. Then adjust only the ‘level’ as the situation in your area changes. To do this in a manner that is familiar and manageable, outline the options from a Risk Analysis perspective.

Risk Assessment

Every Hotel Company has its Risk Assessments in place as part of the operation and Health & Safety requirements. The steps include:

  • Identifying potential hazards for each existing task
  • Outline existing controls, establish if these are sufficient
  • Define the Action Plan with the additional measures that will diminish the risk
  • Establish a lower final risk level based on probability and severity

Now apply this framework to establishing the pandemic operations framework:

  1. Define the risk categories/levels
  2. Look at every aspect of your cleaning, service, and product delivery, including enabling tasks
  3. Identify risk touchpoints
  4. Create a clear set of risk-mitigating measures and strategies for each Risk Level Category
  5. Establish who in the business will ‘define’ and communicate under which categorization to operate in. This is based on your area’s current situation and local authorities’ restrictions and recommendations
  6. Establish the timeframe of implementation. I.e., within a “changed level,” the business will change the mitigation measures to the new level by the following business day, and until further notice

Defining the Risk – Categorizing your Cleaning and Service Requirements

When defining the risk levels, keep it simple for the operations teams. 

Example of Pandemic Risk Levels:

Standard Risk Prevention No known risk in the geographic area Existing standards / Current ‘normal’
Existing Risk Reduction A known potential risk for infection/disease Increased cleaning protocols, redefined service offering to minimize risk
Established Risk Remediation  The area has an established outbreak of disease/infection that is disrupting regular behavior/business Further increased sanitation protocols, reinvent the business to stop infection through tasks breakdown

What we learned

Our process for developing risk levels was first to evaluate operations and establish the baseline (Standard Risk Prevention); these are the Brand standards for cleaning/service. Each additional level was created with additional cleaning/service requirements for the level of threat.

Establishing these levels allows the hotel to move from the most restrictive conditions (i.e., Room disinfected and closed for occupancy for 72 hours) to less restrictive conditions. Allowing the hotel to be flexible as the pandemic curve is flattened or vice versa.

We learned from the Covid-19 pandemic that hotels need to respond quickly to keep staff, guests, and vendors safe. Establishing processes that can be quickly implemented is essential. The ability to be flexible to update and distribute new processes to the hotels can save lives. To ensure success requires management to reinforce safety protocols.

There is much hope with the vaccine that travel and hospitality will return to normal operating levels. However, we are still unsure what the ‘new’ normal will look like. Our goal is to ensure that our clients are prepared to escalate up or down their operations as required. So, while we all continue to learn and adapt, “Be Safe, Be Kind, Be Calm.”

Lisa Zoretich

An extremely motivated, and natural leader with extensive experience in the Hospitality Industry. Breadth of skills deep in Project Management, Business Analysis, Operational Reviews, Policy & Procedure Development, Training, Strategic Business Planning, and Systems Design & Implementation. Adept in applying extensive knowledge of industry best practices to gather and deliver the desired guest experience and market driven demands to best fit an organizations strategic and tactical goals.