The global COVID 19 pandemic has caused extensive socio-economic impacts and put millions of companies all over the world at risk of being forced out of business. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have been hit especially hard and had to adapt to survive.
Businesses have adapted quickly and continue to adapt to the changing circumstances. The way forward is evolving daily and Avalon Legal have developed a checklist to help other businesses survive, adapt and change.
Prioritising health and safety
Staying healthy mentally and physically
Make sure you have a COVID-19 policy that aligns with the government’s advice; and an infection-control policy to reduce possible infections. Public Health England has extensive guidance for individuals and businesses to help them re-open as COVID secure areas and to reduce the risk to the lowest possible level.
If you or your employee becomes unwell use the NHS COVID symptom checker. Have the list of symptoms accessible and updated regularly.
Mental health resources
Provide mental health resources and support for your employees in accessing them. Many people have developed COVID anxiety and will need time and reassurance to work through their anxieties. Charities such as Mind and Heads Together Wellbeing Hub are offering support that employees and business owners can access. Working from home is isolating so encourage employees to take breaks and encourage catch up’s with staff via online platforms.
If you have employees do you have up to date contact details? This is really important and easy to set up an electronic contact folder.
Communicating with employees and customers
Ensure that your employees are aware of your responses to the pandemic and ways you are mitigating risk
Staff and office space will need ongoing risk assessments, following the governments’ advice. Stay in regular touch with your employees and keep them informed of the latest advice. A really good initiative is to provide an electronic news update for your business, then email to employees. This provides reassurance and communicates efficiently the same message to everyone.
The team hub should provide your employees with policies that cover
1. Remote working
2. Schedules of working
3. Insurance information
4. Risk Assessment pro forma
Update your website and social media platforms with your working hours and any changes to availability of products. Pinning a post to your Social media outlets ensures customers don’t miss the information. Let customers know if you offer online platforms for meetings. It is a good idea to have a ‘how to guide’ for those that haven’t used a particular online meeting platform. Send this to your customer ahead of the meeting so that they can prepare. If your business is open as usual let your customers know.
Financial- cash flow
Businesses need cash flow to survive. So how do you create sustainable cash flow? Communicate with your accountant and the bank; ensure they are aware of your financial situation. The government have offered support for small businesses but some are excluded from this financial help. Your accountant should be able to provide you with advice accessing the right support. Updates on the governments support can be found on the governments’ website. Plan for a crisis and update your strategy as you progress.
Keep up to date with the rapidly changing situation and adapt as required. This is also an opportunity for taking lessons you’ve learned and will enable future management of a crisis. Mitigate risk and have a strong business continuity plan to future proof your business.
(C) Karen Wells, Avalon Legal