With coronavirus requiring employees of many office-based businesses to work from home and raising uncertainty in businesses across all sectors, it can be stressful trying to manage your company and protect your employees, customers, and interests.
To ensure you’ve got the best plan in place for your business’ longevity, it’s important to have a “business health MOT” and shore up your risk management.
- Insurance policies
The number one thing to check is your insurance coverage. The most relevant types to check if you have covered during the coronavirus include:
- Business interruption cover – to manage against unforeseen effects on your business in the case of a public-authority requiring it to be closed or any unforeseen damage to the property that means you can’t open
- Portable equipment cover – for any items your employees need to take home to work such as laptops, mobile phones and technical equipment. If any of this is damaged by accident, you’ll be covered to replace them potentially meaning you can keep your business operating as per usual
- Contents insurance – while the office is empty, there’s a higher security risk and potential for any burglaries.
- Credit insurance – credit insurance, although less common these days, still exists and helps protect against the eventuality that customers who owe money for products or services do not pay their debts, or who pay them later than agreed
- Reducing unnecessary costs
While people are working remotely, there may be costs that can be reduced or removed entirely. Obvious ones include any food or drink deliveries to the office, but reducing other office-related services may also be valuable – possibly including cleaning services, office internet provision, or any rented equipment. You could also speak to your office provider and potentially ask for a ‘rent holiday’ while the office is being unused.
- Chase outstanding invoices
During times of difficulty, it’s important to secure as much of your finances as possible. If you have outstanding finances with customers or clients, you should be sure to chase them as soon as possible so you have a clear idea of what funds you have available.
Alternatively, you could also consider invoice factoring as a way to shore up your cash flow. Invoice factoring is where finance companies will pay for your invoice on quick terms, in return for a fee. This can be a very efficient way of improving cash flow in times of crisis
As well as protecting and securing what finances you have coming in, you need to plan for outgoing finances. Your employees may need support in order to work from home, such as devices that allow them to access the same functionality they would have in the office.
Whilst it is important to keep outgoing costs low, you should maintain a realistic idea of what you need in order to keep your business going or stable, and account for all possible costs in a worst-case scenario so there are no unpleasant surprises.
- Communicate with your customers
Your customers are likely to be as uncertain as you during this unique time, so it’s vital that you manage expectations and discuss how you intend to proceed with your work (or how it will change). You should increase the frequency of regular communication to avoid letting any confusion or doubt into the relationship with your clients, and reassure them that you’re on top of the situation. Try using video conferencing software to help maintain the benefits of a face to face relationship.
- Offer alternative services
Related to the previous point, it may not be viable to continue with your normal process of work during this crisis – stock may be affected, or the change in the media may impact on your services.
Review alternative methods of providing your usual service; it may be sensible to focus on building resources during this time rather than offering B2C work for your clients or products to your customers.
You should have conversations with your clients and customers – as well as your employees – regarding these potential changes, to work out the best solution for all parties.
- Business Interruption Loan Scheme
The UK government is opening applications for a new interest-free Business Interruption Loan Scheme, as well as grants for the hospitality industry. If those are applicable to you, you should investigate further information as it becomes available, as these may be of great use for protecting your company during this period.
- Monitor employee wellbeing
During this difficult time, it’s very possible that your employees will face personal and professional problems that may make life more difficult for them. In order to maintain morale, you need to communicate with them regularly and ensure they have all the facilities they need to do their work and get through whatever trouble they might face.
- Reinforce cleanliness and quarantine
A little less focused on the business side, it’s nonetheless vital to remind all of your employees about best health practices during coronavirus. Although many or all of your employees may be working from home, you can still issue notices reminding them to wash their hands regularly and distance themselves from others; keeping your employees healthy will support both them and your business.
- Reinforce your digital security
As most employees will be working from home, it’s important to review your security policies regarding cyber threats. More communication will take place via digital means rather than in person, meaning that it’s more susceptible to attacks and invasions from hackers. Send reminders to your employees on correct procedure for preventing cyber threats and consider putting in place VPN and device monitoring software