Coronavirus is the most popular topic of conversation at my office this week. Currently, we have two known cases of Coronavirus in the state of Nevada and one positive in Reno, NV, my hometown. Everyone is on high alert, stores are selling out of toilet paper and hand sanitizer and I’m over here wondering how I’m going to get my work done if I’m cooped up at home, away from my desk and files.
While Coronavirus is sweeping the world, it really is teaching us some important lessons. Further, as business owners, it’s teaching us just how important it is to be prepared and flexible and what being unprepared and inflexible could mean for our business, employees and clients.
So, how can you and your business be prepared for the worst so you can perform your best?
Consider creating an “In Case of Emergency” policy for both your employees and your clients. How will you handle sick time for those who have none left but are obviously sick and contagious? How will you break it to your client that the pitch they wanted isn’t ready because a virus is wreaking havoc across the country? Create an open door policy for your employees and clients. Communicate clearly and often. If you set a precedent early and your needs, and the needs of the company, are communicated honestly, your clients and employees will thank you for being transparent and forthcoming about how things could change in the case of an emergency.
Be Prepared to Implement Flexible Working Arrangements
Wake up people! It is the 21st Century! There are so many ways to get the same work you do at the office, done at home. In fact, I find I am so much more productive in the peace and quiet of my own home.
Need to collaborate with coworkers on a project? Meetings can be accomplished via Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom and so many other platforms. JT Ripton reviews many different apps that center around collaboration and getting the work done as a group in his article for Entrepreneur, “7 Great Collaboration Tools for Your Business”.
Want more information on setting up remote work? I like this article by Marten Mickos.
What can you offer during times of panic?
Consider what you and your employees can offer your clients in a serious time of panic. With more cases of Coronavirus being diagnosed in the U.S. and abroad, companies like Microsoft and Google are now offering many of their services for free. In Rani Molla’s article “ Microsoft, Google, and Zoom are trying to keep up with demand for their now free work-from-home software”, she explains that these companies are getting ahead of the curve by offering their services amid rising Coronavirus fears. In fact, they are so ahead of the curve that Molla says “Zoom’s stock is up more than twenty percent in the last month, a major outlier as the stock market as a whole is plummeting and fears of a recession are on the rise.”
This tactic isn’t just for large companies, but works for small businesses and entrepreneurs too! Are you a health and wellness coach? Consider doing a webinar on how to stay calm and healthy amid healthcare scares. By giving your clients a place to voice their concerns and then address those concerns, you’ll build a relationship that will last long after the scare has dissipated.
Are you a small business? Consider pulling together health care tips and tricks from each of your employees. Then post these socially. Are your employees working from home? Have them film themselves and send their clips to you. You could even start a hashtag to communicate with followers and encourage interaction while being stuck at home. The benefit here is two-fold. By interviewing your employees, you’re giving your supporters a real, live person to connect with in a time that is really scary. By posting socially, you’re offering help and guidance while staying at the top of your followers’ news feed.
Remember, in times like these, everything changes very quickly. Being flexible should be at the top of your list of priorities. Make exceptions for your employees and clients. This won’t last forever. At the end of it all, you’re going to want to be known for all the positive ways you and your business handled the situation, not the opposite.
With tons of advice floating around during this Coronavirus scare, I hope this was helpful. Trust your gut, wash your hands, and reach out if you have thoughts on how we can all get through this together (er… or separately, collaborating via one of the apps discussed above!).