8 Tips for Businesses in Response to COVID-19
New year, fresh start? Sadly not. Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 or Coronavirus in Wuhan, China in December, over 200,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide and over 8,000 deaths. Clearly this is a dark time for all of us and it is important to stay positive. Many of us will be deeply worried about our friends, family and jobs during this period of great uncertainty.
And while the future remains uncertain day-by-day it is very important to keep your staff calm, informed and in high spirits. Change and adaptation is a way of life and those who work fast will find ways to evolve and succeed in the hardest of times. Before that however, it is important to steady the ship and ensure the safety of your business and the people within it. Here are 8 tips for businesses in response to COVID-19.
1. Accept it
Bypassing the other stages of grief, it is important to understand that the threat is real. The virus has spread around the world with every continent and nearly every country confirming cases of the outbreak. Blocking out the news and trying to carry on as normal is not an option. Going about your business like nothing is happening is as futile as pushing a boulder uphill. For a while at least, our lives and everything in them are going to change.
2. Put your staff first
It can be a knee jerk reaction to focus solely on yourself, but if you are in charge of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of employees, it is your duty as their employer to ensure that they are safe and comfortable with what is happening and how the business plans to tackle the situation. If someone shows the slightest symptoms, they should be protected from others to allow them the best chances of beating the disease.
3. Exercise good hygiene
We can all be forgiven for forgetting to wash our hands once or twice in a hurry. However, now more than ever, proper hygiene can make a massive difference for yourself and all those people you come into contact with. There are several government and news sites providing clear and detailed instructions on the best ways to keep yourself clean and prevent the spread of disease, therefore take the time to instruct your team how to do so for the benefit of all of us.
4. Don’t take risks
Day by day the guidelines have changed depending on the country and the stage the virus has reached in your region. However, when it comes to meetings, events and travel, air on the side of caution and use common sense. Yes it may cost you financially to postpone a trip or an important meeting, but remember that everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is being hit by this outbreak, some more than others and it would be foolish to put gain ahead of people’s health and safety.
5. Work from home if necessary
For some in other businesses or jobs, sadly this is not an option; if you can’t be at your place of work, you can’t do your job. If however you are able to do so, do it. It may seem antisocial and counterintuitive to isolate yourself when you have no symptoms, but at this stage the less contact you have with others the better, especially as symptoms can appear days after you contract the virus.
6. Stay in contact
If you do go along the route of sending employees home to work remotely, it is important to keep a clear line of communication. Check in every morning, set goals for people to achieve, create threads to keep everyone in contact with each other and boost morale and confirm what you have achieved to finish the day. And most importantly, beyond the work aspect, keep staff updated on the business as a whole.
7. Be honest with your employees
As much as we may hate to admit it, we are all scared. Scared of contracting the virus, scared of hurting others, scared that we don’t know how long this will last. So it is very important that you communicate with your employees. Doesn’t matter how small or seemingly insignificant it is. If there is some news which needs to be imparted, don’t just share it with your managers. The more we all know, the more informed we are and the more chance we have to keep everyone safe.
8. Reassurance and Strength
Great leaders can make the big decisions, but also can admit mistakes. Make sure you have a clear vision for whatever future lies ahead, but remember plans can change as things develop and be flexible.
And remember, your staff will be scared. Many businesses have already closed stores with many people being laid off. When they pack up their desk to work from home, they may be worried they will never go back. Be open with your employees. Show them respect and trust and they will show it back. We are all in this together and no one should have to face it alone.
To learn more about COVID-19 and the UK’s response to the outbreak, the link to the government’s website can be found here.
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