Heading into the last long weekend of summer we were all rattled by the COVID19 cases that popped up in Northland and North Auckland. We’ve not been oblivious to the ravages of the pandemic elsewhere in the world but we have managed to slide through summer in a fairly relaxed ‘must-remember-to-scan-in’ style.
The twin spectres of lockdowns and alert level changes loomed large as the media briefings restarted – and for many businesses, a rising sense of panic edged out the last of the summer vibes. The virus will be with us for a long time yet and it is inevitable we will have to continue adapting to rapid change – so what as business owners can we do to stay cool when the COVID temperature rises?
As with any assessment of risks and issues we have to be able to deal with anything and everything so my main tip would be to make sure you are prepared for an outbreak. Start by taking another long, hard look at your business. You will, in the first weeks after the pandemic was declared, have adapted to operating in a crisis. Maybe you invested in technology, perhaps you reorganised your operation entirely – it was hard to do but you made it.
We’ve had the luxury of some pandemic ‘down time’ but that won’t always be the case, so in preparing for change, stop and think how an outbreak will affect you and those around you.
- How are your cash reserves?
- Will you need to make that rapid switch to digital again or have you embedded processes that allow you to move seamlessly from one method of operation to another?
- Have you got to grips with managing remote teams for when we find ourselves back in ‘working from home’ mode?
- What flexibility have you built in for staff members who have children or other caring responsibilities?
- How will you keep your customers and staff safe during alert level changes?
- What communications processes do you have in place so your stakeholders and communities can stay connected and informed?
- How will you counter misinformation?
- How will you manage your business if you find yourself – or a staff member – at the centre of an outbreak?
- Have you reviewed your sick leave policy to make sure staff are cared for?
You will have asked all of these questions before but during ongoing change we have to ask – and answer – the same questions time and again to make sure we are ready to respond when the occasion demands.
The next tip is to build people’s confidence in your COVID risk management – set an example and let them see you take your responsibilities seriously. That means having your business QR code throughout your premises – one on the front door, one on the front desk, by the bathrooms, in the break room – if there’s a flat surface to be had slap a code on there and get your people using it. For those without phones, set up easy sign in stations that feature a prominent date and time column. It means looking at your health and safety plan and introducing processes that will cover different scenarios and understanding your operational risks from supply to order or service completion.
And my last tip is this – there is no ‘business as usual’. Business is and will be, most unusual for a considerable time to come, so expect changes and stay cool when pandemic problems arise.