The ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus has created unprecedented challenges for businesses and individuals alike.
Across the globe, many have found themselves wondering how they can keep their businesses going in these uncertain times. Here are a few concrete steps you can take to ensure the health of your small business in the wake of the coronavirus.
1. Create/Review Your Emergency Plan
As the virus continues to impact daily life around the world, it is more important than ever to have an effective emergency plan in place for your business.
An emergency plan should detail the steps you are taking to protect your business and staff. Include procedures for informing your employees of changes to your operations, backing up your information, and contacting vendors.
The CDC also recommends designating a specific employee to be the point person for COVID-19 questions and issues.
2. Empower Your Employees to Work Remotely
In just a few weeks, remote work has become “the new normal” for businesses everywhere. However, setting up a remote work infrastructure can be a challenge of its own.
Talk with your IT service provider to make sure that remote access is available to those who need it. There are numerous ways to enable remote work. You may use a Virtual Private Network (VPN), enable remote desktop access, or use cloud services. An IT professional can help you find the right choice.
Develop a clear remote work policy to share with your employees. Include in the plan how you expect employees to communicate. Options include email or utilizing platforms like Slack, Zoom calls, Google Hangouts, and Google Docs.
Be transparent about when you expect your employees to be online/available and what projects they are each responsible for.
Be as clear as possible in your remote work policy. Your employees will feel more confident working from home. As time goes by, continue to keep the lines of communication open.
3. Look Into Your Federal Relief Options
The federal government has passed several measures to aid businesses affected by the coronavirus:
Federal Income Tax Deferment
The deadline for filing tax returns and paying income taxes has been extended until July 15th. Additional proposals would postpone the deadline further until October.
As of March 18, 2020, employers must provide paid sick leave to impacted employees. To offset these costs, new legislation also gives employers back a tax credit equal to 100% of the costs of providing paid sick leave.
Low-interest Federal Loans
The government announced it will will be providing millions of dollars in funding for low-interest federal loans, backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
4. Combat Misinformation
There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Make sure you are providing your employees with accurate and up-to-date information. Here is a list of reliable and authoritative sources about COVID-19 that you can share with staff.
5. Update Your Employees
It is better to be proactive than reactive in sharing information with your employees. As new information becomes available and you make new decisions about your business, don’t leave your employees out of the loop. Consider options like a daily update email or newsletter. Clear and upfront communication is key, now more than ever.
6. Be Transparent With Your Customers/Clients
Your employees are not the only ones in need of clear communication at this time. Keep your clients/customers updated on how your business is handling the coronavirus.
Posting on your social media pages or sending out regular emails or newsletters shows clients you are taking the situation seriously.
The pandemic has thrown our world into uncertainty. The future seems unclear and the information available changes every day. However, with these steps, you can safeguard the future of your business.
For further information, the CDC guidelines for businesses during the coronavirus can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html