If you’re reading this, you’re most likely aware of the very real global health crisis that has a lot of people asking a lot of questions—primarily questions like, “How will this impact me?” In addition to concerns regarding looming mortality, the public is scrambling to stock their homes to stay indoors for the foreseeable future if this virus gets as bad as some believe it will. Have you seen toilet paper aisles at your local grocery store lately? If the barren shelves don’t get you a little spooked, the near-violent altercations over Lysol wipes will.
All jokes aside, maintaining your own personal health during a potential pandemic* is stressful enough. But what about maintaining the health of your business? The economy seems to have all but given up, but should you throw in the towel as well? (*According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 aka Coronavirus is not yet a full-blown pandemic and instead is classified as a “global health emergency.” However, news sources and most everyone else has been using the term so we decided we would too.)
While you may want to avoid human contact for the next chunk of time, there’s no need to close up shop (in the figurative sense) yet. Here are some things you can do to deal with the economic and workplace implications of the coronavirus.
1. Optimize your office for remote work.
There’s nothing quite like a pandemic to really bring to mind how many people you closely interact with during any given day. If you’ve been dreading being in a conference room with your coworker who just got back from a vacation and has the sniffles, it might be time to suggest that your team try out a remote option for meetings and office hours. You wouldn’t be alone—Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, and Square have all told their employees to work from home until further notice.
For some, this is a silver-lining to an otherwise very nerve-wracking time. Many workers enjoy the perks of remote work, but for others, remote work is unproductive and inconvenient. Depending on your industry, it may be that working completely remotely is not even an option.
Whatever the case, there are always ways to cut back on human interaction. For example, moving meetings online rather than holding them in close quarters can mitigate some of the risk of viral spread. At this point, coming up with the best plan for you and your team will be trial and error and a lot of listening to the needs of your staff. If anyone is adamant about staying at home to avoid exposure, now’s not the time to crack the whip and insist they come to the office. Trust your team to find what works best for them and offer options—if feasible.
If you’re a seller or affiliate with ClickBank, this is a benefit you might take for granted. Working remotely and setting your own schedule allows you to assess risk, be present when you need to be, and communicate via technology instead of face to face.
2. Adapt to adverstiy.
Nobody asked for coronavirus to decimate 2020’s first quarter earnings and certainly nobody planned for it. If your business is one that works directly with the public (like a restaurant or brick-and-mortar retail), a pandemic is worst case scenario.
Take this time to figure out a way to get your goods and services to people without having to interact with them. With more and more people avoiding public exposure, your profits will plummet otherwise.
One major way you can adapt is to optimize your online experience. If your inventory is not online, make sure you’re working to get it there right now. If your current website is rife with 401s and broken links, it would be smart to clean that up. If you’re not interacting with your customers over social media to let them know you’re doing everything you can to keep your employees and store safe and disinfected, get on Instagram right now. If the public cannot get what they want from you without leaving their house, this event will be more painful than it needs to be.
While Coronavirus might be a nightmare scenario for small stores, adversity fuels adaptation and there’s no time like now to get with the (new, albeit scary) program.
3. Calm your team.
No matter if you are a fortune 500 company or a small team of 6, employees at businesses of all shapes and sizes are nervous right now. In this time of worry, prioritize calming your team. One way to help ease the tension is to let them know that they will not be penalized for missing work if they stay home because they are sick or because they are anxious about contracting the virus. If your business can swing it, offering full or partial paid sick days for your employees will help with financial stresses.
Communicating with your team about situational plans will also help those prone to anxiety chill out a little. Let the team know that upper-level management is aware of the threat and that they are doing everything they can to anticipate issues and plan accordingly.
Additionally, encourage your team to practice wellness. Promote exercise, healthy food, sleep, and stress-reducing activities. Stock up your break room with vitamins and fruits and vegetables. Do what you can to let your employees know that you support them and understand that these times can be trying.
4. Put together a recession plan.
If your business relies on widgets of any sort from China, you already know the economic implications of this virus. This kind of economic impact can ripple through all industries ultimately hurting the collective’s pockets. With factory shutdowns across China and global companies seeing losses as stores temporarily close in infected areas, there’s no doubt that the effects of a pandemic last much longer than the actual virus.
While creating a pandemic-induced recession plan right now may seem a bit shortsighted, it’s not a bad idea. While it’s pretty inconceivable that you could make lemonade from this particular awful, unexpected virus, you can figure out a way to navigate these unchartered waters and learn some lessons along the way. No business is 100% recession-proof, but there are some things that can help offset major economic loss during down times.
5. Hope for the best; plan for the worst.
Economic disrupters like natural disasters and pandemics illicit similar responses from the market and from the public—the majority is generally not pleased when they happen due to the destruction, loss of life, and disruption to the status quo. With that in mind, there’s no use in pointing fingers, letting anxiety rule your life, or kicking yourself for not being prepared. It is what it is and there’s no harm in hoping for the best.
That being said, putting together a plan for what may come is never a bad idea—especially if you’re a business owner.
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