At MBK, we solve problems every day. As the outbreak of COVID-19 has escalated and caused unprecedented reactions such as closing schools for weeks, cancelling professional sports, limiting restaurants and bars to take-out only, social distancing and prohibiting the gathering of groups of more than 25 people – business leaders have growing concerns for the financial health of their organizations, people and customers.
COVID-19 presents an exceptional level of uncertainty, making it difficult to implement any single contingency plan. However, crisis management can be made easier with preparation and by staying current on resources that are available. Below are tips and best-practices for financially surviving this pandemic.
- Evaluate telecommuting options (Work from home)
Begin by first evaluating your organization’s daily operations. How many of your employees can effectively perform their jobs while working from home? How many essential personnel must be present in order to perform their responsibilities? What will your policy be for employees in each category? Do you have the proper technology and security to even offer a work-from-home option?
Once you have decided who can telecommute and who will simply not have that option, it is important to communicate your policy clearly. What steps should employees without a telecommuting option follow if they need time off?
For employees that do not typically work-from-home, it can be beneficial to share best practices and expectations such as:
- Work during normal business hours
- Be available via phone, email, company messenger during normal business hours
- Attend a daily virtual check-in with managers to discuss progress, outstanding tasks etc.
- Setup call-forwarding for your business line
- Maintain access to necessary equipment and materials to perform job
- Communicate clearly with your employees and customers
As your business braces for un-treaded waters, it is vital that you communicate clearly and in a timely manner to both your customers and employees. Don’t allow misinformation or confusion to spread faster than the virus. Your employees, clients, customers and stakeholders will be looking to you for reassurance and up-to-date information.
Customers, clients and stakeholders want to know: Will deadlines be affected? Have your “in-person” policies been temporarily changed? Will you be offering a virtual service in the interim etc. Let them know that you are actively monitoring the situation and how you are making temporary adjustments to your business so that they know what to expect. This can also mitigate fears and concerns that your customers may be feeling. Communicate these and other relevant information via email, phone, social media and/or any other normal communication channels.
Your employees want to know: In addition to any telecommuting options that may be temporarily available, what is being done to protect their health and safety? Have you increased cleaning around your place of business? Have you taken any action to limit exposure for employees? Have you encouraged any at-risk or sick employees to stay home? Have you cancelled “in-person” meetings or business travel to limit exposure? Again, a large part of crisis management is dispelling fear and therefore, a well thought-out and communicated plan will go a long way for your business.
- Assess your Inventory
Whether you are talking about actual inventory that you sell, or supplies that your business needs to operate – do you have a clear idea of how this is affected by the virus? Who are your suppliers? Will they be able to replenish your stock or, are they potentially unable to do so because of isolation? Do you have a secondary option for suppliers, or will you have to cease selling certain products or services until these products become available? If so, will you take back-orders?
On the contrary, could you end up with a surplus of inventory? For example, did you order perishable supplies that could potentially expire? Are there creative solutions you can take here such as freezing products? Saving products for a future event or for when you re-open? Increasing the marketing for take-out? Or perhaps even donating products which would become a write-off and have a positive public-relations benefit.
How will you communicate these supply chain issues to your organization and customers?
- Identify scenarios, points of failure and other risks
Currently, businesses are scrambling to get off defense. In order to get back on the offense, you need to have a good playbook with a variety of plays for any given situation. What are your worst and best-case scenarios? What is the game-plan for the short term and the long term? How would a longer impact affect your business? Will your business see a rise-in-demand or suffer loss of business – and how will you cope? Do you have the right teams in place to perform critical duties as needed? Do they have the right skills, equipment, technology and security to perform those duties if they needed to work-from-home for a period? How would staggered shifts affect your business? Are there critical duties that must be performed on-site for your organization to function? What adjustments will you make if those duties cannot be performed?
As with any crisis, most plans will need to be adjusted day-by-day as new information becomes available. If you have planned for a variety of scenarios, then the adjustments will be more manageable. In some cases, it may even be the key to a business’s survival. It is simply critical that businesses and organizations remain proactive, informed and agile.
- Stay informed on resources for your business and employees
Assistance and resources for businesses and individuals are available.
For Financial Resources, Business Resources and Tax Resources amid COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 Resources and Toolkit
This material is generic in nature. Before relying on the material in any important matter, users should note date of publication and carefully evaluate its accuracy, currency, completeness, and relevance for their purposes, and should obtain any appropriate professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.