Backing you during COVID-19
Find the help you need to prepare your business, communicate with customers, and support your employees during the coronavirus.
What you can do right now
Keep yourself safe
Keep your customers informed
Share updates about your business on your website, via social media, or even through a phone call or personal email.
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 navigate through uncertainty:
- Get to know your new cash flow and forecast for what’s ahead: Understand the real importance of cash flow forecasts during this challenging time. Use this guide to understand the Cash Flow Planner in QuickBooks.
- 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 businesses 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 Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines on hand-washing and sanitizing: Hand sanitizer must contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective. Post signs around the workplace, reminding employees to wash frequently.
- Sanitize 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 2-metre 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 something like COVID-19 is new territory. Here are some first steps to help you get started:
- Form 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.
- Create a plan for remote working: 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’ 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.
The simplest way to lower the risk of infection and contamination is to avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada. For individuals returning home to Canada from abroad, here are a few tips for keeping yourself and everyone else safe:
- Avoid contact after traveling: The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that all persons who might’ve come into contact with an infected person avoid contact with others for at least 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.
- Keep a safe distance: The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends people keep at least 2 metres apart.
Suggestions for virtual events
The Public Health Agency of Canada has the most up-to-date guidelines on mass gatherings. Additionally, here are a few tips 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 minimize 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
Many businesses are issuing work-from-home policies in order to 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 organized 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 prioritize 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 patience, grace, and support.
- “For savvy entrepreneurs, an economic downturn creates opportunity” via Entrepreneur
- “Economic data to watch for signs of coronavirus impact” via Wall Street Journal
- “Paid sick leave: Who gets it during the coronavirus outbreak”via The Washington Post
- “A step-by-step guide to adding delivery to your restaurant”via FSR Magazine
- “Is recession on the horizon? Experts tell us how to prepare for the possibility” via QuickBooks Resource Center