What you can do right now

Keep yourself safe

 

Now more than ever, it’s important to remain calm and follow the guidelines from the Department of Health Safework Australia and Smart Traveller.

Keep your customers informed

 

Share business updates on your website via social media or even through a phone call or personal email.

Provide resources to your employees

 

Keep employees informed with documentation and advisories from the The Treasury, Safework Australia and Business.gov.au.

 

Australian Federal Government Stimulus Package for Small Business

 

The Federal Government has recently announced a range of measures designed to not only help households respond to the economic challenges presented by the spread of the coronavirus but keep the lights on and the doors open of our small businesses.

 

 

 

Find out more

 

How to protect your business and your employees

If your business financials feel volatile, you’re not alone. Here are some other ways business owners can ensure as few financial losses as possible:

 
  • Build out a business continuity plan: Jot down worst-case scenarios and potential business struggles. Then finalise a plan for dealing with those problems before they arise. This is your guide to moving forward with speed and confidence.
  • Build a supply continuity plan: This plan focuses on getting all the goods and resources you need from alternative sources, should a vendor cease production.
  • Create a communication strategy: This should be internal and external, to reduce confusion. Decide what you need to tell investors, employees, and contractors, and create a chain of command so messaging goes through proper channels.
  • Explore virtual and e-commerce options: If your business relies on face-to-face contact or in- store purchasing, now’s the time to think outside the box. Consider virtual meeting rooms for consults and services and online retail spaces for goods.
Financial preparedness

If your business financials feel volatile, you’re not alone. Here are some other ways business owners can ensure as few financial losses as possible:

 
  • Build out a business continuity plan: Jot down worst-case scenarios and potential business struggles. Then finalise a plan for dealing with those problems before they arise. This is your guide to moving forward with speed and confidence.
  • Build a supply continuity plan: This plan focuses on getting all the goods and resources you need from alternative sources, should a vendor cease production.
  • Create a communication strategy: This should be internal and external, to reduce confusion. Decide what you need to tell investors, employees, and contractors, and create a chain of command so messaging goes through proper channels.
  • Explore virtual and e-commerce options: If your business relies on face-to-face contact or in- store purchasing, now’s the time to think outside the box. Consider virtual meeting rooms for consults and services and online retail spaces for goods.
Workplace prevention tips

Not all business owners can send employees home. If you have workers who must be on-site, we have a few suggestions for keeping people safe.

 
  • Send sick people home: If an employee is experiencing flu, cold, or COVID-19 symptoms, don’t hesitate to send them home.
  • Observe the Department of Health’s guidelines on hand-washing and sanitising and good hygiene. Post signs around the workplace, reminding employees to wash frequently.
  • Sanitise everything: This includes surfaces, door handles, commonly used tools like keyboards, pens, or even card readers. If your workplace has hand-washed, communal dishes, put the dishes through a bleach bath after scrubbing.
  • Keep a safe distance: We now know COVID-19 can be spread through saliva and mucus carried in coughs and sneezes. Experts recommend maintaining a 1.5 metre distance distance between yourself and others, to reduce the risk of contamination.
  • Encourage a good night’s sleep: You may not be able to enforce a team bedtime, but managers should build schedules that allow for adequate rest times between shifts.
First steps for business owners

For most business owners, dealing with a pandemic like this is new territory. Here are some first steps to help you get started.

  
  • Identify a task force: You have some decisions to make. Employees want to know you’re taking their safety into account. Investors want to know that you have a contingency plan in place. Identify people on your team to research each problem and build a proposal for moving forward.
  • Before sending employees home, make a plan: This should include an agreed-upon communication platform and documented remote work expectations. Make sure employees have all the tools they need to be successful and have resources at their disposal for IT-related troubles.
  • Focus on the financials: Keep investors or shareholders in the loop on future plans that may impact revenue. Investigate your business’s cash flow sources and create plans for alternative providers. An accountant may be able to help by completing a risk assessment on your books. A risk assessment will help you better prepare for gains or losses.
Tips to travel safe

The simplest way to lower the risk of infection and contamination is to restrict all non-essential business travel. But for those unavoidable business trips, here are a few tips for keeping yourself and everyone else safe.

  
  • Travel wisely: Do not travel to cities with known COVID-19 outbreaks.
  • Avoid contact after traveling: The Australian Government is enforcing a self quarantine period on all people returning from overseas travel for 14 days. Monitor your temperature for those 14 days to ensure good health before returning to work.
  • Safeguard others: Upon return, stay away from the elderly, individuals with compromised immune systems, and people with chronic or severe health conditions.
  • Rethink public transit: Consider your transportation options. Is there a way to minimise the number of people you encounter at close quarters when you travel? Sanitise after touching door handles or other common surfaces.
  • Keep a safe distance: The Department of Health recommends people keep at least 1.5 metres apart.
Suggestions for virtual events

The Department of Health has the most up-to-date recommendations on gatherings. Here are a few tips for minimising contamination, should you decide to move forward with a virtual event:

  
    • Mix in multimedia. When hosting a virtual conference, it helps to keep participants engaged with periodic challenges and opportunities to participate. And social media provides an excellent avenue for getting involved from any location.
    • Put dynamic speakers on camera. A person doesn’t have to be in the room to command a presence, but they do have to feel comfortable talking on camera. Try to book speakers with experience being on camera, or ask for a recorded sample before booking them to speak.
    • Pre-record when possible. It’s less fun than a live recording, but pre-recording can help minimise the risk of technology glitches mid-talk. If pre-recording isn’t an option, try a tool, like Facebook Live, that can accommodate more traffic at once. Just be sure the speaker has a strong internet connection first.
    • Create conversation spaces. One of the best parts of attending a conference is networking. Give attendees the opportunity to connect by inviting them to a messaging platform like Slack or Teams. Set up channels inside those tools, based around topics of discussion.
Best practices for remote work

As cases of COVID-19 continue to escalate, businesses are issuing work-from-home policies, so employees slow down the virus’ spread. Here are a few tips for a seamless transition to a remote workforce:

  
  • Make sure employees have the tools and equipment they need to work effectively: This includes instant messaging apps, video conferencing tools, and reliable internet access. For many, equipment needed includes a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
  • Encourage employees to designate a workspace in their home: Separating work from life helps employees focus and stay organised throughout the day.
  • Clearly communicate remote team expectations: Employees should know when they’re expected to be on and working, how to communicate availability, and which meetings they’re expected to attend virtually.
  • Take precautions to keep your business data and your employees safe: Avoid using public networks. Work in a private space like a home office rather than a coffee shop or co-working space.
Boosting employee morale

Working remotely can leave employees feeling disconnected from teams and co-workers. But teamwork is an important ingredient for productivity. Here are a few tips to help keep employees’ connections thriving:

  
  • Schedule and prioritise virtual hangouts with team members: Put time on the calendar just to catch up with co-workers and maintain personal relationships.
  • Consider creating a virtual water cooler: Start a dedicated chat channel or video conference link that’s live all day. Employees can pop in and out as time permits, much like meeting in the breakroom.
  • Encourage employee interaction through virtual challenges: Ask employees to post a picture of their four-legged co-workers, share their best home-office tips, or collaborate on a team playlist. Challenge your team to come up with fresh ideas each week.
  • Find new ways to team build: Remember, the goal is to limit contact with others, so forming a human knot isn’t a good idea. Instead, look for online team-building opportunities. Slack extensions like Donut can pair up team members for virtual one-on-one conversations.
  • Be transparent and practice patience: You’re all in this together. As you work through your new reality, remind employees to give one another a little patience and grace.

Comprehensive Business Guides to dealing with COVID-19

Business Australia guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to coronavirus

 

 

 

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CPA Australia information, support and resources for businesses and employers impacted by coronavirus

 

 

 

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