Coronavirus coverage is everywhere. And whether you think it’s pandemic or paranoia, here’s the reality: if an outbreak happens in Edmonton, people are going to be scared, and some are going to get sick.
The government’s job is to protect the people, and your job as a boss is to protect your business. What steps can you take to keep your business running during an outbreak?
It turns out that a lot of the things you can do to protect your business are pretty similar to the Lean improvements that would save you money anyway!
Your team, and the energy and experience they bring every day, is the most valuable part of your business. Sick days are expensive, and with a scary new virus looming, the nightmare scenario—a large percentage of your workforce getting infected—threatens to grind your business to a halt.
Employee health is a good investment. There’s a lot of low hanging fruit:
If someone has a cough or a sore throat, they need to stay home. However, you have an impact on that decision. If they feel like they’ll be left out, fall behind, or betray an unwritten, “suck it up” code, they will come in anyway.
It’s up to you to create a culture where someone’s decision to stay home won’t be seen as a mark against them later. How you react to people staying home (and whether you stay home when you’re sick) sends a message, and the message you want to send is that staying out of the office keeps everyone else safe: it’s neither weak nor lazy.
You can also make it easier for people to stay home, whether they’re sick or not. If you haven’t started exploring the merits of allowing some members of your team to do some work from home, now is the time.
If there’s an outbreak, there’s a good chance that even healthy employees won’t be able to come into the office. There may be advisories against leaving the house, schools or daycares could be shut down, and childcare could become unavailable.
Remote work also keeps that employee at home, in the most contained and controlled environment that’s available to them. As long as they’re productive, keep them there. You may be surprised by how much your team can get done while working from the safety of their home computer.
Travel and Meetings
The “smile and a shoeshine” tradition dictates that the more you travel, the better business you do. In an outbreak situation, airports become hotspots for transmitting disease meaning the less travel your team does, the less they’re gambling with infection.
This is also where you can save a lot of money. Sometimes, like if you’re closing a big deal, travel matters. But more often, it doesn’t, and it’s a grandfathered-in perk for ourselves or senior staff.
Cut back on travel. Your staff and your clients will understand.
If only one or two team members know how to fulfill a necessary process, you’re in trouble if they get sick. Now is the time to document your most vital processes to build a resource of skill sets within your business. It could be as simple as asking the one person who knows where the bank deposit key is to send you an email with its whereabouts.
Check out our blog on why processes matter for more on documenting processes.
Disease outbreaks are more common than we think, but when a frightening new virus threatens to close in, it’s always best to act proactively to protect your people—and your bottom line. Lead with transparency, flexibility, and an emphasis on hygiene. As coronavirus runs its course, your business can get through these uncertain times with an excellent prognosis.