Actions to support your business during the current coronavirus pandemic

The impact of the coronavirus on the business community is real. It’s affecting all businesses, so you will need to take some actions to mitigate the impact on products and services and indeed the cash flow. Find Business Support now.

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3 min read

At the beginning of this year we were all wondering where we were going with Brexit and what the impact would be on the business community. Would supply chains from mainland Europe remain strong and secure, would possible tariffs alter demand for our products and services? No one could have predicted that within a couple of months we would be in the grips of a world-wide pandemic due to coronavirus.

The impact of the virus on the business community is real. It will hit some businesses harder than others but everyone will need to take some actions to mitigate the impact on their products and services and indeed their cash flow.

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Here are some actions to consider during this difficult period.

1. Stay calm

No one is to blame for current pandemic. If your business is impacted try and stay calm and logical and work through a strategy to see you through this difficult period. Your own mental health and that of your workforce will be impacted. You will want to throw yourself at your business but it’s just as important to take care of your own physical and mental health as well as that of your staff. Involve others to see what they suggest can be done to support the business. This could be from other local businesses, friends and official sources of help such as your local Business Gateway office.

2. Contingency Plan

If you have a Contingency Plan now is the time to get it into operation. If like many business there may be little documentation in place you can follow some of the points below and check other information online. When this event is over ensure you create and regularly update an appropriate Contingency Plan for your business.

3. Business Basics

Ensure your workplace follows the required hygiene rules. Soap, anti-bacterial gel, paper towels, tissues etc. should be available to your team and used. Regularly clean common contact areas. If you have hot desks or desk sharing, ensure that users are aware of this requirement. Follow the guidelines that apply to your business sector. Encourage all staff and customers to follow this discipline.

4. Working from home

In the likelihood that we will be encouraged to or indeed directed to work from home we need to ensure that staff can physically do this. Are laptops, mobiles etc. set up to work away from the place of work? Is your IT network going to work via home broadband? Can staff dial into central resources? Can security be ensured? Does insurance cover home working?

There are many questions that are raised by emergency homeworking. You need establish an understanding of what is feasible and what is not. There is no easy answer to this. Staff may need to be at home should schools and childcare provision close so some business operations may not be feasible from home. It is unlikely to be perfect but it can be satisfactory.

5. Timescales

We don’t know how long the pandemic will be with us so it will be important to consider the impact on your business over:

  • 24 hours
  • 1 week
  • 1 month
  • 3 months
  • 1-3 years

Each time frame will require a differing response from you and your business. Start thinking and get planning.

6. Stay connected and communicate

With our teams working from home and general business operations in a state of uncertainty it is important communication channels stay open amongst staff and customers. I know of some small businesses that have set up specific WhatsApp groups to brief all staff regularly on issues that are impacting on them and their businesses. This simple action can have considerable impact. It does, however, depend upon up to date mobile numbers etc. (a basic requirements in a Contingency Plan: all staff mobile and home telephone numbers, emails addresses, next of kin etc.). Create an emergency communication strategy. To reduce travel and face to face contact consider alternatives like Zoom meetings, an effective and productive communication tool that helps staff stay connected.

7. Remaining calm

If business operations become difficult it is important that we remain calm. We need to continue with key business operations like security, information, IT support, finance and importantly people. We have seen panic buying in supermarkets and people stock piling which to some extent is understandable but in our businesses we need to ensure that a matter of fact approach is taken during this period of uncertainty.

8. Official guidelines and information

Scottish and UK Governments are regularly updating the public and the business community with information. Information is being released that may have impact on your business. It may be a directive that will have immediate effect or a briefing of support that may be available to you through this difficult period. We need to stay tuned in to their briefings, websites and direction to see what announcements will have impact on our businesses.

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