The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted virtually every aspect of people’s personal and professional lives all around the world. As of this writing, there have been nearly 400,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 17,000 deaths. The measures enacted to fight the virus’ spread include:
- the cancellation of most sporting events and conferences
- the closure of non-essential business, including gyms and theaters
- the shift to remote work for millions of workers
- the transformation of restaurants to a take-out and delivery only service model
Even the Summer Olympics have been postponed until 2021, marking the first time in modern history the games have been interrupted by something other than a world war. In addition to the strain coronavirus has placed on the healthcare industry, nearly every industry is facing economic uncertainty as a result of the virus control measures. The economic impact could be especially devastating for small and medium-sized businesses.
Navigating the current economic landscape can seem frightening for so many businesses. From concerns about employee health to merely staying afloat amidst significant revenue loss, these new challenges are daunting for business owners. Fortunately, there are measures businesses can take to mitigate losses, recover from the losses they incur, and in some cases, potentially come out better than they were before the start of the pandemic.
Mitigating the Effects of Coronavirus
For businesses that are still operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to enact measures that mitigate the economic impact on the company. There are several measures businesses can take to do just that for the current and future pandemics.
Follow CDC Guidance
First and foremost, the health of employees, partners, and customers should be the top priority for employers. If your business is still operating a physical location, it’s important to follow CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. CDC recommendations for workplaces include:
- Encouraging sick employees or employees living with someone infected with COVID-19 to stay home
- Minimizing face-to-face contact and maintaining at least six feet distance between people as much as possible
- Notifying employees if they may have been exposed to the virus, such as through contact with an infected co-worker or customer
- Educating employees on how to do their part to stop the spread
- Increasing cleaning and sanitation efforts, especially for surfaces and areas with high levels of human contact
- Designating a workplace coordinator to head up the company’s coronavirus procedures
- Implementing flexible sick leave policies
- Adjusting business practices to the changing environment (i.e. identifying alternative suppliers, temporarily suspending non-essential operations, etc.)
- Shifting to remote work for applicable employees
- Increasing ventilation and/or the percentage of outdoor air that circulates into the system
- Following best hygiene practices, such as hand-washing, minimal person-to-person contact, and making hand sanitizer readily available
- Restricting business-related travel based on CDC travel guidelines
Making the Most of Remote Work
The technological age in which we currently live makes the continuation of work during a pandemic more feasible than ever before. Working remotely has become more popular in recent years, with many jobs being able to be completed with little more than a computer, wi-fi, and the cloud. In fact, an estimated 4.7 million people now work remotely. The coronavirus pandemic has forced many employers who have been opposed to remote work to finally adopt the practice. Whether it’s to accommodate employees who are self-isolating or to comply with government orders, companies have found remote work necessary to maintain business continuance.
Employers who have recently shifted to remote work or are considering it surely have questions of how to ensure their employees remain productive outside of the office environment. The first step employers should take to get the most out of employees working remotely is ensuring employees have the right tools for remote work. Tools that can help remote workers include:
- Collaboration Technology that allows employees to remotely connect with co-workers and customers. Examples include videoconferencing tools like, Go To Meeting, Ring Central, Skype, and Zoom, messaging apps such as Slack, and document sharing services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
- Digital Workspaces that allow employees to access company data, storage, and programs necessary for their jobs.
- Cloud Technology that allows employees to perform their essential job functions remotely. Examples include cloud ERP’s such as Acumatica and cloud CRM’s like Salesforce.
Providing remote employees with effective tools is just the first step. For people working remotely for the first time, it may be difficult adjusting to the new work environment. From a multitude of distractions to not knowing where to set up their makeshift office, it can be very daunting. Entrepreneur.com compiled a list of 10 tips from CEO’s on how to effectively work from home. Read the full list in detail here. The tips include:
- Have healthy snacks and meals on hand.
- Focus on results and don’t worry about tracking every second spent working.
- Choose the right tech for the job and set it up in a way that allows for the most productivity.
- Balance work and play by working when you feel productive and resting when you don’t.
- Make your family aware of your work schedule to reduce interruptions.
Relief for Businesses Affected by Coronavirus
While mitigating the economic effects coronavirus has on your business can help minimize revenue loss, it’s not a cure-all. The reality is that the majority of businesses, even those that are able to effectively shift to remote work, will suffer at least moderate financial strain as a result of the pandemic. Fortunately there are several relief programs available to small businesses.
Tax Filing and Payment Extensions
The IRS has extended the deadline for filing federal income taxes and tax payments to July 15, 2020. This 3-month extension applies to tax payments of up to $10 million for both businesses and individuals. In addition to the federal tax extension, several states have also extended their tax deadlines to July 15. To determine if your state has extended the deadline, check with your local tax agency.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program
In addition to federal and state tax relief programs, the SBA is offering loans of up to $2 million for small businesses affected by coronavirus. The loans come with repayment terms of up to 30 years and low interest rates of 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profit organizations respectively. To apply for the loan, visit disasterloan.sba.gov, select “economic injury” and follow the steps outlined on the application.
State Relief Programs
Several states and cities offer additional relief programs, such as the Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program that provides one-year no-interest loans between $50,000 and $100,000 to businesses with between 2 and 50 employees. After a year, the interest on these loans becomes 12%. Read about more state-sponsored relief programs here or visit your state’s website to see what relief programs are available.
A Chance to Innovate
While the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on most businesses will be negative, it also provides an opportunity for innovation. Take for instance how the restaurant industry has changed in the past few weeks. Following CDC guidelines and in some cases government mandates, most restaurants and bars have suspended dine-in services and are take-out and delivery only. While food delivery services such as Grubhub and DoorDash have become more popular the last few years, many restaurants have been hesitant to offer delivery for a variety of reasons. However, the coronavirus has forced most of these restaurants to offer delivery, via their own employees or a delivery service, just to stay afloat. While continuing delivery services after the pandemic is over may not be best for every restaurant, some have undoubtedly found a new revenue stream.
Companies in other industries have a chance to innovate as well. It’s still unclear how long isolation measures will last, and the longer they do, the more accustomed consumers will become to them. This could very well cause a permanent change to our lifestyles and expectations. For instance, the SARS epidemic of the early 2000’s gave rise to e-commerce as people avoided physical stores. Similarly, the rise in remote work and telehealth visits as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak could lead to businesses offering more virtual services that don’t require customers to leave their homes.
Through This Together
The coronavirus pandemic has shocked the world. Thousands have died, hospitals are overwhelmed, millions of people are living in isolation, and the world economy has nearly ground to a halt. But through all the doom and gloom, we have seen people come together. From 30,000 retired healthcare workers answering New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s call for assistance, to companies donating medical supplies to hospitals in need, we have been reminded of the power of the human touch.
At iPro ERP, we’re here to help you navigate these trying times. Our vision is to help every client be successful with our software solutions through quality services and support. We are here for you during these difficult times. Our cloud ERP will help your business adapt to these changing times. If you’d like to learn more, contact us. For existing customers in need of support, our support team is standing by 24/7. To contact support:
We’ll get through this together.