The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly, with new updates flying in every minute. As the situation evolves, many small business owners are unsure of what steps to take to mitigate risk, protect employees and support customers.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce offers a coronavirus toolkit with a compilation of the CDC’s recommendations for businesses and workers across the country. Here are the key points and immediate steps the CDC recommends.
Establish a remote work option
With plenty of people already working remotely, there are a lot of free tools business owners can utilize so that teams can stay in touch and keep working even if they aren’t in the same place.
Implement a remote work policy that covers when you expect your team to be online or available, how to communicate (via email, Slack, or video call, for instance), and what deliverables each team member is responsible for completing.
[Read more: 4 Ways Your Business Can Support Remote Workers]
Reduce meetings and travel
Try to keep opportunities for exposure to the virus to a minimum. Postpone any team meetings or hold them virtually. Skip any conferences or other planned business travel. If your workers get sick because of travel or meetings, you could have a liability issue on your hands, or you will have to manage low morale and sick leave requests.
Give employees flexibility
Schools across the country are closing, as are offices, stores, businesses and commercial centers. With the country slowly moving toward total lockdown, you will need to be flexible with your employees’ time. Some team members may have to leave unexpectedly if their child’s daycare closes. Others may have students who come home from school for spring break and aren’t able to return. Try to be as understanding as possible when something comes up and have a contingency plan in case you suddenly become short-staffed.
Communicate transparently with your customers
Everyone is facing this crisis together, so be transparent about what your business is going through. Customers can empathize with brands facing a crisis, as long as you communicate with them properly.
As Harvard Business Review reports, “When customers are separated from the work that’s being done behind the scenes to serve them, they appreciate the service less and then they value the service less.” Describe the steps you’re taking to mitigate risk and give them insight into the steps you’re taking to help the community.