America is currently in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. The Coronavirus outbreak has caused stock markets to crash, people to stay home, and given everyone an overall sense of unease. Never before have we seen something of this potential magnitude in our country.
It’s no wonder that many business owners are wondering just how to deal with it. It seems as if there’s no prior roadmap to follow, no handy guide, and the only thing they can do is just take it one day at a time.
For some businesses, such as those in the travel and hospitality sector, there’s no doubt that times will be tough for the foreseeable future. However, for other businesses, it remains to be seen how they will be affected.
While there’s no telling what tomorrow will bring in this highly dynamic situation, one thing is clear. There are many moving parts that companies will need to start taking into consideration to ensure everyone remains safe.
While many businesses use the services of a 3rd party janitor company, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the building is clean. There are many touchpoints in any given office, such as doorknobs, keyboards, computer mice, and common appliances in the office breakroom. These areas can be vectors for not only Coronavirus but the common flu as well.
Sick employees can cost a business hundreds of thousands of dollars or more per year during flu season alone. By taking the time to sanitize common touchpoint areas manually, it can help limit or prevent the spread of sickness throughout the office.
While there are currently no OSHA regulations that specifically pertain to Coronavirus, it’s vital to be proactive by creating a training program that educates employees on the new risks as well as adopts safety procedures they should follow to help ensure a safe working environment.
Many companies have already encouraged their employees to work from home. While this isn’t a legal requirement – yet, it can not only help prevent people from getting sick but will allow parents to stay at home while their children’s classes are canceled.
Creating a remote work policy helps keep everyone on the same page and ensures that they will put in the same effort and have the same productivity as they did back in the office.
The first way to go about this is to determine who can perform their job duties remotely. Then look to see if you can provide the requisite tools needed for their work. A remote worker might run into IT issues such as a slow home internet or login/firewall issues. If you don’t have an IT department, many remote IT companies can offer assistance.
The next step is to consider how remote workers will communicate with the main office. What software tools will you use? Will people call in on the phone or over their computer? What if the camera and microphone on their laptop are broken? These are just some of the many things you’ll need to take into consideration to help ensure a smooth transition.
Consider Hiring Freelancers
Some companies might need to lay off workers due to decreased business. Hiring freelance workers can help alleviate some of the extra workload that would otherwise be offloaded to those who weren’t laid off. There are several online job boards where you can post temporary jobs for freelancers.
Before you do so, you’ll need to figure out the best way to work and communicate with them. By determining whether you’ll use the phone, an online chat program such as Slack, or email, you’ll be able to communicate more effectively with them, and that can help prevent potential misunderstandings or delays.
There are plenty of free and paid task management software programs on the market, such as Trello, Basecamp, and Asana, to name just a few. These tools can help keep everything and everyone organized.
Client Communication and Sensitivity
In these uncertain times, constant communication with clients is best. People want to be reassured that you’re still able to provide the same level of service. It will also inform them of any changes you’ve made due to the Coronavirus situation. Social, news alerts, and even blog posts are the best way to share these reassurances.
You’ll also need to be sensitive to their financial situation. Some companies may lose a lot of business during this period of time. If you need to downsize the retainer, then be the first to offer it.
Perhaps they laid off a few key employees that fall within the scope of your expertise. You might be able to pick up some extra work this way. Best of all, since trust has already been established, your clients are most likely to agree to the increased work.
Planning for the Future
Nobody knows what the immediate or far future holds. While everyone hopes that this is only a temporary situation, there exists the very real possibility that this could be the new norm for many months to come. By being prepared and taking the time to consider and plan for the future carefully, your business will be in a much better position to ride out the storm.