How can you help prevent coronavirus from making its way into your workplace?
Unless you live in a bubble (which doesn’t sound like a bad idea right now), you’ve probably heard that the coronavirus disease, also known as COVID-19, is making its way across the nation. With many people panicking about the spread, businesses are seeing a decline in traffic and an increase in isolation.
So … what’s a business owner to do? Panic? Nah. Plan? Yes.
To protect your business and employees in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, you need to be willing to take some precautionary measures … and of course do a lot of hand washing in the process.
Protecting Your Business During A Pandemic
Protecting your business during this pandemic means much more than giving your business a good scrubbing. It also means preparing your business for the worst and keeping your staff well-informed.
To keep your company healthy as a horse during the coronavirus outbreak, take advantage of these six tips.
1. Create A Plan
As coronavirus spreads, more businesses are putting safeguards in place to protect their companies and employees. A key precaution many business owners are taking includes creating or revamping an emergency preparedness plan. If you haven’t created a plan yet, it’s time to giddy up, employers!
An emergency plan not only outlines what steps your company plans on taking if an outbreak impacts your business. It also lays out what measures you’re taking to protect your employees and business before disaster strikes.
Be sure to include the following information in your plan:
- Steps you’re taking to protect employees
- What to do if an outbreak occurs at your business
- How employees can contact you in case of emergency
- What will happen to business operations if your business is infected
2. Establish A Work From Home Policy, If Possible
If you don’t have a work from home policy or plan, now is the best time to add one, my friends. With coronavirus in every state, businesses are finding alternative work arrangements to keep employees from coming into the office and avoiding contact.
Maybe you’ve tested the waters before and let employees work from home. Or, maybe it’s a whole new ballgame for your business.
Depending on your industry and business, you may not be able to give employees the luxury of working from home. Maybe you don’t have or can’t afford additional equipment. Or, maybe employees need to interact with customers face-to-face as part of their positions (e.g., nursing).
If at all possible, consider establishing a work from home policy. Include things like employee eligibility, remote procedures, and guidelines. Also include rules for temporary remote work in your policy.
3. Inform Managers About Updates
No one likes being left out of the loop, especially when something like the coronavirus strikes. When it comes to protecting your business, you must, must, must communicate with your managers and keep them up-to-date.
To keep your business safe during the virus’s outbreak, you have to do your research. Check the CDC’s website every day for more information about the outbreak. And, don’t forget to check your state and local news for details about the spread and regulations pertaining to coronavirus (e.g., bans on mass gatherings).
After you do your homework, relay that information to managers and supervisors as soon as possible. That way, they are up to speed about the situation and where your business stands.
4. Keep Your Employees Posted
Just like managers and supervisors, you absolutely need to keep your employees posted, too. To communicate coronavirus-related news to your employees, you can send out memos or emails or have a mandatory company meeting (via video chat, of course).
At my accounting and payroll software company, Patriot Software, we are taking the coronavirus spread very seriously and keeping our employees up-to-date as much as we possibly can. Currently, we try to send out an email update or message to our team at least once per day to communicate coronavirus to employees and what precautions we’re taking to keep them safe.
Filling in your staff not only allows you to keep them posted about your policies, but it also helps reduce workplace panic. The more your employees know, the better.
5. Reevaluate Your Cleaning Procedures
This next tip is a little obvious, but it can’t go unmentioned. That’s right, folks … you need to sanitize the heck out of your business during this battle with coronavirus.
So, how often is your business being cleaned? Twice per week? Every day? Seldom? Whatever your answer is (I’m not sure if I really want to know), now’s the time to hike up how frequently you clean your business.
Think about how you can improve your cleaning procedures to protect your business. To ensure your business is squeaky clean, consider doing some (or all) of the following:
Keeping your workplace as clean as a whistle will give employees some peace of mind knowing that they’re working in a safe environment. Not to mention, employees will appreciate your extra effort to ensure that they stay healthy.
6. Take Advantage Of Federal Relief
The coronavirus is making a huge dent in the business world and economy. But, there’s no need to panic because small business relief is on the way!
The government is scrambling to pass legislation to help small businesses and individuals negatively impacted by the virus. This includes things like:
- Low-interest federal disaster loans
- An employer tax credit
- Federal income tax deferment
If your business is struggling to gather funds to cover business expenses due to the coronavirus outbreak, you’re not out of luck. The government will be providing millions of dollars in funds for low-interest federal disaster loans, backed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Businesses can apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan to help cover expenses that companies can’t afford due to the virus. This includes payroll expenses, accounts payable, and fixed debts.
In addition to low-interest SBA loans, the government is offsetting mandatory paid sick and paid leave costs (signed into law on March 18) for employers with an employer tax credit, equal to 100% of the benefits doled out.
As of March 17, 2020, the Treasury Department is also allowing some businesses to defer paying their federal income taxes. The deferment would extend the April 15 deadline for businesses negatively impacted by the pandemic, without penalties, for 90 days. This gives business owners the chance to use their income tax liability funds to cover other expenses. Keep in mind that you must currently still file your business income tax return by April 15.