10 Tips To Protect Your Business Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Thousands of small businesses across the world have collapsed due to the coronavirus outbreak, and countless others are struggling to survive. They have lost customers, been forced to close their doors, and now face uncertain futures. While lockdowns persist across the world, and the virus continues to cause damage, there are several risks that all business owners must face. Crucially, you have to contend with the direct threat of COVID-19 and take action to prevent contributing to the spread. But at the same time, you want to do what you can to draw in more customers and stop business from dwindling. If your doors are still closed, you will have an increased risk of break-ins and vandalism, while technology-based companies may fall foul of the slew of opportunist cyber attacks that have grown in recent months.

As a business owner, you are in a difficult situation. You have to balance your need to keep your company going strong, with the ethical considerations that the pandemic has raised. Fortunately, help is at hand. Here are ten tips to help you protect your business from the most significant threats the virus poses.

Coronavirus

Businesses are beginning to open up and attempting to return to normal. But we are not yet in the clear. The virus is still very much active, and businesses have an obligation to ensure that they do their bit to prevent the spread. Customers and employees can’t carelessly mingle, and social distancing must be maintained at all times. The importance of cleanliness and proper hygiene cannot be stressed enough. Here are a few ways that businesses can help to prevent contamination.

  1. Reduce the number of staff

This doesn’t mean laying people off, but instead reducing the number of workers who have to go into the office each day. Minimising travel outside the home is one of the best ways to slow the spread, and if your employees can work from home, they should do so. Video conferencing software such as Zoom makes it very easy for colleagues to communicate and collaborate from wherever they are in the world. Your staff will still be able to get the job done, and their productivity may even benefit from a more flexible schedule and less time spent commuting.

These measures don’t apply to all businesses. Workers in the manufacturing or retail industries cannot do their jobs remotely, so they will need to come into work each day. But if this is the case, then you may still be able to ensure multiple workers are not operating in the same area.

  1. Re-evaluate your cleanliness procedures

Coronavirus can live on surfaces for several days, so proper sanitation is absolutely crucial. You no doubt have a cleaning process in place, but it will need to be re-evaluated to match the risk of COVID-19. If you only clean your business once a week, now is the time to ramp up the frequency and ensure that all employees take care to clean up after themselves. Enforce the necessity to wash hands thoroughly. And that’s not just a quick rinse but 20 seconds of thorough scrubbing. Stock up your office with hand sanitiser and disinfectant and ask employees to clean their desks, computers, mice, and any other objects they may have touched.

  1. Keep employees up to date

The global situation is changing daily, and government guidance is constantly having to be refined and improved. You need all of your staff to be on the same page about the necessary precautions and measures, so ensure you communicate any changes in a timely fashion. Keep them posted by emails or memos and have mandatory company meetings held remotely through Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Keeping your employees informed will not only enable them to follow proper procedures, but it will also help to manage any panic, stress and uncertainty about the situation.

Loss of customers

As well as facing the risks of a deadly virus, businesses must also contend with dwindling profits and a fall in customers. People are being careful with their spending and minimising any non-essential excursions at present, which includes leisure activities such as shopping and eating out. As a result, many businesses are struggling to attract enough customers to maintain positive cash flow. This particularly affects the service industry, but companies of all kinds are fighting to stay afloat amid this wave of uncertainty.

But the pandemic will end, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few ways that you can help to attract customers while setting yourself up for success when things return to normal.

  1. Go online

If your physical store remains closed, the internet is your only way to promote your business to the world. Consider whether there are aspects of your product or service that could be provided to online customers instead. Many gyms and personal trainers have offered online workouts to keep their customers fit and healthy throughout the lockdown. Drinking establishments have organised virtual pub quizzes, and there have even been online dating nights, cooking classes and book clubs. The power of the internet is incredible, and with the improvements in remote collaboration technology and the vast number of people stuck at home, the possibilities for online success are endless.

  1. Adapt

Even before the pandemic happened, we lived in a constantly changing world. We are always seeing new trends, technologies and behaviours that shape the way consumers make decisions and how companies do business. Any successful business must be able to adapt to a changing world, and there are plenty of opportunities for brands to make money in different ways. Several restaurants and bars have seen success in offering takeaway meals and drinks for customers, meaning they can still make money without breaking social distancing guidelines. Others have focused their retail efforts on deliveries rather than in-store purchases. Perhaps there is a way for you to offer new services or implement new tools to allow you to operate more safely under the current circumstances.

  1. Use your downtime productively

With business on hold, you will no doubt have plenty of time on your hands. Although it may be frustrating to see your customers and profits dwindle, you should use this extra space in your schedule to do something productive. Any business owner has tasks on their plate that they keep meaning to get around to, and now is the time to do so. Use the opportunity to focus on things that will set you up for greater success when the economy kickstarts. This could include working on your marketing strategy, refurbishing your store, and any other steps you can take to future-proof your business.

External attacks

With all the uncertainty occurring in the world, businesses are more vulnerable than ever to malicious attacks and external threats. Here are some tips to keep your company and its employees safe.

  1. Install extra security

Throughout the pandemic, many countries have seen a surge in break-ins, burglary and vandalism. This has predominantly targeted empty town centres, shops, and commercial sites. It is an excellent time to consider updating your security measures. This could include fitting your office with alarms or security cameras, installing secure automatic commercial roller doors, and ensuring all valuables and sensitive data are under enhanced protection.

  1. Check on the office

Opportunist thieves are likely to target properties that have been vacant for extended periods. Even if your office is officially closed, it would be a good idea to check in on it every now and then. This will deter criminals as well as enabling you to spot any malicious behaviour as soon as possible.

  1. Implement a working from home policy

If your employees are working from home, there’s a good chance sensitive company information is being taken out of the office. This could be private customer data, financial details, or intellectual property. Office systems generally provide a lot more security than home networks, in the form of firewalls, advanced antivirus software, and blacklisted IP addresses, so there is more risk for remote workers. Manage the possibility for things to go wrong by providing full guidance to your staff about how to safely operate from home, including storing devices properly and using strong passwords.

  1. Be prepared for cyberattacks

Since the outset of the virus, there has been a rise in coronavirus-themed cyber attacks, including malicious apps, websites and phishing emails. These have primarily been targeted towards vulnerable individuals and organisations, but all businesses should be careful to avoid the risk. This would be a good time to address any potential cyber-vulnerabilities in your system and be extra cautious of suspicious emails and messages. Conduct a review of your cybersecurity policies and procedures and identify any areas where you could improve your defences. Ensure all company devices are secured and encrypted, and all data is backed up in case it is lost in an attack. Keep IT support available for remote employees working from home.

Keeping your business going in these turbulent times is undoubtedly stressful and uncertain. Business will be unpredictable for a while, but the pandemic will be over soon enough, and things can start to return to normal. In the meantime, you must take steps to protect your business from harm and act to improve your chances of bouncing back in the future.

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