After the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the Wuhan coronavirus is a pandemic, businesses everywhere need to do what they can to prevent it from coming into their office and workspaces. The steps needed are simple and the same that would be needed if another highly contagious disease were spreading across the United States.
Make Preparation Now
Doing what you can to limit or possibly even prevent coronavirus from infecting one or more of your employees should be planned for now – if you do not already have taken steps to do so. Of course, there is no guarantee that you will not be infected or that your business will not suffer because of it. Preparation for it can help you be ready for the possible business interruption and help to minimize the damage.
Many Businesses Are Not Ready
A recent survey showed that about 40 percent of small businesses have no plan in place and have made little preparation for it. Some said that they have enough cash on hand to survive a temporary shutdown.
Steps Needed to Prepare for the Outbreak
Taking several steps now can help you be more able to survive a shutdown. While you may have warning, realize that you may need to shut down without warning. The steps include:
- Having employees frequently using hand cleaner or washing hands with soap and water.
- Avoiding personal contact with others – including handshakes, touching, fist-bumping, etc. Reduce in-person meetings by meeting online.
- Order supplies now for at least a month to six weeks – remember that many of China’s businesses are not yet operational. Your supply line may not stay open.
- One or more employees may become infected with coronavirus but not infect others (they got it somewhere else and did not come in – may have been on vacation and traveled, etc.). You should have money to cover them for about two weeks while they are quarantined so that they do not feel that they must come in to continue getting a needed income – which would only infect others.
- Create an operational structure in the event of a shutdown. Determine who can work from home and how to deliver tasks to them and when. Choose how often reporting is necessary and to whom they will report.
- Calculate what finances are needed to operate while shut down. Figures need to include salaries, supplies, insurance costs, possible unforeseen expenses, and more.
- Any data that employees will need while working from home needs to be accessible via the Internet. You can do this through the cloud but make sure the data is secure.
- Seek to reduce costs now. If your business experiences reduced income, larger costs getting supplies from alternate sources, or reduced production because of coronavirus (or flu) and missing employees, operating on a smaller budget will help your business survive.
- Do not count on a stable income from the stock market or retail stores – which may be closed. With recent market instability, what is there today may be gone tomorrow.
- Increase your business’s ability to have your products and services available online from more sources, which is where people will be ordering from if large areas are placed in quarantine.
- Help your employees to be prepared, too. Instruction should be given to tell them how to avoid contamination. Sick employees need to be encouraged to stay home when sick.
- Employees need the comfort of knowing whether or not work can continue if the business must shut down or if you can provide them with work if their children must stay home. They also want to know what steps are being taken in the workplace to help prevent the spread of coronavirus if another employee gets sick.
Taking disease prevention steps may not ensure that your business is completely safe. It can, however, help reduce the likelihood of it, and being prepared for it can help enable a better outcome.