Now that we are midst impact of the virus and the full repercussions for businesses and organisations are becoming real, what are the next steps you should be taking?
Protect your Business
First and foremost, continue to protect your business. If you’ve been adversely affected to date and are likely to encounter other negative cashflow or expense deficits, then plan ahead. Make sure you are familiar with and put in a claim for any government support you may be entitled to. If you rent a commercial property, consider asking the landlord for a pause, if your bank can help you out, make sure you ask them at an early stage.
If you are forced to consider short time working, layoffs, furlough or redundancy, make sure you adhere to the legal process, don’t be caught out by acting in haste. Contact a HR specialist who can guide you through the steps.
Keep re-forecasting for cashflow and budgets and trimming costs wherever you can. Seek help from any avenue which may be available.
Some of you will have switched to working from home along with your employees and work colleagues. It’s really difficult to keep in touch when you’re not meeting at the coffee machine or able to turn around and ask someone their thoughts on your work. Make an extra effort to stay in touch via video conferencing, social media or old-fashioned telephone calls. Check in properly with your colleagues, not just from a work perspective. Ask them how they are coping at home? How are they feeling? What is difficult for them right now?
Different people will have different challenges, whether living alone and feeling totally isolated or juggling their work and workspace with children and family members. Can you offer more flexibility or working hours, times or the roles they are covering to help ease the burden?
Make sure you have set your expectations for people working from home. If you have one, remind everyone about the home working policy. A good guide should cover the physical and mental aspects of working from home and give a good overview of the do’s and dont’s.
Whatever you do, remember you are responsible for the wellbeing of your staff and colleagues at all times.
The support systems that we had in our offices are now all a little disjointed. Computer problems can’t be fixed by Mike from IT just popping up to the desk to sort it out. How are you teaching, assisting and talking each other through the problems? Can you set up some remote working support training from your IT specialists to cover the common problems people face with connectivity, printing, logging in from home etc.? Make sure everyone has a number they can ring to get some help.
Whilst you should all have Cyber Security and Data Protection policies in place, these two areas become very much more difficult when your employees are not contained within a secure office environment. Who else at the home of your workers can see confidential information? How are you ensuring that data is not being shared on un-monitored external systems and how safe are your systems from attack when the access is so much more complex?
Consult with your IT or Cyber Security specialist to make sure your systems are protected and do remind people about the need for vigilance and adherence to data protection.
Don’t forget your suppliers and customers, whilst you are isolated from the norm? What impact will their financial position have on your business and how will you manage any worst-case scenario?
Do keep in contact with all these people, whether you’re doing business with them or not. Keep the relationships alive and check in on all the people you normally deal with through your day to day work. Remember to factor in their expected actions and fortunes into your own financial planning.
Your customers still want to hear from you even if you’re not able to provide a normal service. Make sure you keep in touch, much the same as with your staff.
People will remember simple kindness when this is all over.
Most of you have experienced sudden disruption to your services and normal ways of working. It all seemed to happen so quickly and we are unsure about the timescales for the future. Start to consider what steps you will need to take to resume normal operations and services, once some of the restrictions are lifted. The main guidance will come from our governments, but what do you need to do to be able to re-start, quickly and successfully?
If your business continuity plan has been invoked, how detailed and relevant is to starting up again. Does everyone know what the steps are? Will your normal suppliers still be in business?
Make a detailed plan with flexibility to adapt to further changes and moving timescales.
Do continue to review the situation with your employees. If you are facing challenges with paying them, or considering redundancy or lay-offs, do consult with them at an early stage. You may be surprised at how willing people are to help you out. Overall, make sure you communicate, communicate and communicate some more with all the parties you deal with.
Observing social isolation rules doesn’t mean we can’t be sociable.
Finally, I’m pleased to advise that there will be no disruption to my services, as I will be working from home as normal and remain fully available via telephone, e-mail, messaging or video conferencing. Call me on 07624 481335 or e-mail email@example.com . Follow my facebook page by clicking here: