From transitioning to telecommuting to keeping your place of business sanitized, there are several steps you can take to keep your employees and customers safe from the coronavirus.
The coronavirus has likely already affected the way you conduct business, or it soon will. While many companies will resort to telecommuting, others that remain open will need to adjust their day-to-day operations. Whatever the case may be for your business, there are many ways to keep your employees and customers safe.
For some companies, transitioning to telecommuting will be fairly simple. For example, if you’re running a SaaS company, a digital marketing agency, or an accounting firm, chances are, a lot of your work is already done online. If you run a business that requires tangible materials and equipment to stay operational, the transition may take more time.
Below are useful solutions that you and your organization can combine and adopt to create a new work environment that’s best-suited for your business.
Telecommuting is one of the best ways that a small business can protect their employees and customers from the coronavirus through social distancing. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to make the reality of telecommuting a little bit easier.
Set Up a Communication Tool
With your employees working from home, you will need a communication tool. If your team only consists of a few employees, you might get away with using your phones. There are a multitude of apps that allow for basic group messaging and conference calls.
For bigger teams, you might want to look into tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams that have more options for private chat rooms and easy ways to share files. Both of these tools, and others like them, offer free plans.
Use a Project Management Tool
You may already use a project management tool, which sets you up for success. If you don’t, consider looking into tools such as Asana, Trello, and Toggle Plan. These tools keep all of your deadlines, communication, and files in one place resulting in fewer emails and improved productivity. A lot of these tools also offer free plans for small businesses.
Digitize Essential Documents
Make sure that all of the documents your employees will need to continue doing their job are available while they’re working remotely. For some businesses, that will mean digitizing paper documents. Others may need to modify the security on their servers to allow access.
If your business uses a location-based system for tracking hours, it’s a good idea to switch to an online time-tracking system. The same applies to payroll; with an online system, you can pay your employees via direct deposit instead of a check, thereby eliminating the need to go out to cash it.
Make It Easier for Customers to Pay You
Online payment options can also be extended to your customers, which minimizes direct contact with your customers and offers a welcome convenience. With a simple payments system, your clients can receive and pay your invoices online. The more online payment options you can offer, the better.
Don’t Forget About Company Culture
Deadlines aren’t the only things that can be missed when everyone starts working from home. Water cooler conversations belong in that category as well. That’s why things like virtual coffees and check-up calls are essential to keep morale up and ease the reality of social distancing.
Strategies for Business Locations That Remain Open
Industries such as retail, restaurants, and manufacturing don’t have the luxury of performing their duties from home. If your small business is in this position, you will have to develop new strategies to protect both your employees and customers from COVID-19.
Establish Better Sanitary Health Practices
It’s important to maintain adequate supplies in the workplace, including tissues, soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, and hand wipes. Make hand sanitizers available for customers throughout your facilities, and make sure your employees wash their hands frequently or wear protective gloves when interacting with clients. In addition, follow the CDC’s guidelines for sanitizing your workplace.
Change Work Routines
Your work routines might have to be adjusted in order to encourage social distancing, meaning avoid handshakes, hugs, and all close contact. Ensure that your space is never too crowded with customers so everyone can practice social distancing. It’s also imperative to increase yourcleaning and sanitation routines.
Encourage Employees With Symptoms to Stay at Home
Flexible medical leave policies will make it easier for employees who experience symptoms of the coronavirus to stay at home. If an employee has had coronavirus (or suspects they did), the CDC recommends returning to work only after 72 hours pass without a fever. It’s also important to make sure that at least seven days have passed since the first signs of illness.
Avoid All Non-Essential Travel
If you can, conduct meetings over the phone or through a video call. Gmail or Google G-Suite users can use Google Hangouts for free. The communication tools we mentioned earlier are an excellent choice, even if your business isn’t converting fully to telecommuting.
Explore Delivery Options for Your Products
One way to combat the spread of the coronavirus is to offer more extensive delivery options for your clients. For food businesses, this might mean switching to a delivery-only option. For shops that sell physical goods, it may mean widening the area of delivery in order to reach more customers that may not want to come into a physical store.
Choose Simple and Useful Solutions
The current state of the business landscape is temporary. Things will go back to normal eventually. Your top priority at the moment should be to protect your employees and customers while making sure that your business remains operational. What that looks like will vary depending on your industry. Keep up with the latest recommendations at the CDC’s Guide for Businesses.
While you may face some challenges, keeping your business operations running smoothly shouldn’t be one of them. There’s no need to invest in cost-prohibitive technology or equipment. Simple back-office solutions designed for small businesses can help you adjust to the new business environment as efficiently as possible.