We owe a debt of gratitude to the physicians, epidemiologists, and infectious disease specialists who have been sharing information on how to keep ourselves, our neighbors, and our communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If we’re willing to seek advice, it’s out there. When it comes to business, it’s another story. The relay of declarations for shelter-in-place, school closures, and non-essential business suspension make it clear that operations need to change, but the how of it all is very muddy.
The Center for Disease Control says in its guidebook regarding COVID-19: “Lack of continuity planning can result in a cascade of failures as employers attempt to address challenges of COVID-19 with insufficient resources and workers who might not be adequately trained for jobs they may have to perform under pandemic conditions.”
We’re discovering on a global level that many businesses were not prepared for a pandemic. “What now?” is a question many of us are muttering under our breath.
Let’s sort through it all together and go over the required elements of a business checklist for COVID-19.
Viability in the age of uncertainty: Work from home requires adaptation
The first hard fact is that we can no longer work in the spaces we did before COVID-19.
Every car on the road and every commuter on the train represents a liability, either of virus spread or of potential injury that would require the attention of emergency responders and health care workers needed on the frontlines of fighting this pandemic.
“The only way to return to a stable economy and restore our liberty is to end epidemic spread of Covid-19. We need a massive effort to offset the hardship of these efforts, and the public health costs they impose, as there are more than economic costs to the measures we’re taking.” Former FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb.
It looks like for the foreseeable future, we’ll be working from our homes. There will be financial trade-offs for employees and employers.
While it feels like this is temporary, the actions you take for your business should be done with a viability for permanence. This is an excellent time to find a partner if you don’t have one already – to assist with communication needs, as the internet just became the single most crucial business tool available.
“You can think of a VPN as almost a castle and moat strategy where all the employees and all the secrets of the business are in the castle, and the bad guys are kept out through the moat,” Cloudflare’s Prince said.
The day President Trump declared the pandemic a national emergency, internet traffic surged by 20%. NPR reports that VPN use was up 53% in the U.S. last week, and more than doubled in Italy, according to provider AtlasVPN.
From communications to VPN: A business checklist for COVID-19
Here’s a business checklist for COVID-19 to refer to as you juggle maintaining your business and reconfiguring everything.
Does your current phone system alert callers to a remote working scenario?
People must trust that they can reach you.
Can your voicemails be forwarded to email?
Even during a pandemic, people have expectations that you’ll get back to them quickly.
How will you manage conference calls with your team and clients?
Having the details figured out before you have an audience is invaluable.
Does everyone on your team have a reliable internet signal at home?
Supporting your team and your bottom line demand that connectivity is stable.
Can your standard protocol be sustained in the new configuration?
Don’t be caught off guard twice – troubleshoot how things might fail and address it.
What about a VPN?
Your team is scattering to different areas; your data needs protection.
Are you set up for cloud storage?
The addition of more worksites increases the risk of data loss, be proactive.
Will the computer programs used at work be accessible at home?
Make no assumption when it comes to the basics, test, evaluate, and test again.
Does equipment need to go home—laptops, desktops, printers, photo equipment, chairs, files?
The responsibility is on the business to ensure the staff has what they need to work.
Is the equipment insured for transit?
Murphy’s Law. Make the call.
Do you need additional insurance riders?
We don’t know what we don’t know, consult experts.
Do people have basic office supplies?
My kingdom for a post-it right now. Plan ahead.
Have you communicated the new plan to your clients?
No one wants disruption of service – communicate before asked, and build more trust.
How will you replace in-person meetings?
Reassure the people you work with that your service and relationship will flourish.
Have you reached out to partners and vendors to check on their plans?
Anticipate what you might need, check-in before you need things.
What is the strategy for check-ins?
Humans created the term FOMO, HR can develop systems to avoid it.
Are there accommodations you can make for employees that have been personally impacted?
Human capital is our greatest resource – the long-term benefits of compassion can’t be understated.
Will you offer mental health support?
Chances are people will be tested in countless ways; offering guidance is an investment in your entire organization.
Can you articulate performance expectations?
Working remotely doesn’t mean working impersonally. Plan for interaction.
How will you praise staff?
We must hold on to what makes us human—teamwork, collaboration, goals, and praise.
Upheaval tests us all. The realities of COVID-19 will continue to impact how we do business. Focusing on the things we need to function daily can be stabilizing.
You’re reading this article because you’re invested in establishing the path forward. Trust the instinct that keeps you moving, lean into the resources around you, and feel the momentum of your focus, rebuilding the foundation beneath you.
Check in on your customers today.
They’ll appreciate it tomorrow.
Learn more HERE.
Visit our section devoted to COVID-19 and business here.