Coronavirus…Looking for silver linings.

If working from home has been on your wish list, it’s highly likely you are going to get to experience it in the coming weeks; provided it’s an option in your profession. 

Mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus is a challenge we all need to be taking ownership of.  I’m convinced, by the time this passes (and it will pass) we’ll all be able to rattle off the recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus without even thinking about it.     

As a PSA, here’s a top 10 for you and your team….  

  1. Avoid large groups and crowds.
  2. Cancel / postpone unnecessary events/meetings or use a video conference option.
  3. Practice “social distancing” (the degree of this varies by locale)
  4. Work from home, when possible.
  5. Wash hands frequently, especially when out.
  6. Refrain from shaking hands with co-workers or customers.
  7. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing, elbows are better mitts than hands, if possible use a tissue or other disposable material.
  8. Avoid touching your face, notably when outside your home (this is a hard one!)
  9. Disinfect surfaces and packages, (currently there’s debate how long it can remain active, but some authorities are suggesting 3 days or longer on plastics in a mild environment)
  10. And of course, if you have any flu symptoms, please stay away from others.  This isn’t a time to be Superman or Wonder Woman.

It’s not all negative….

Although we tend to dwell on any negatives that upset our normal business routines, there are several good things that come out of disruptions as well.  Out of necessity, we get forced into thinking about areas of our business that have otherwise been neglected.  

Below is a list of six often neglected areas that may be overdue for some attention due to the impact from the Coronavirus.  If the shoe fits…maybe this is the time to do something about it?

  1. Do your managers have the authority to make quick decisions if they suspect there is an infectious disease present in their department or location?  Does your business have a procedure to quickly report concerns to local health officials?
  2. How well are your employees cross-trained?  Especially key employees that perform vital functions in the business. If you have someone who’s going to be ‘out’ for a couple of weeks, are you ready?
  3. If your business is dependent on outside inputs, whether they are from suppliers or other business professionals, do you have alternate sources identified to replace each of them should they not be able to perform?
  4. Do you have a “Working from Home” plan?  Technology requirements?  Work environment do’s and don’ts?  Expectations of communication? 
  5. Is your team trained and equipped to hold remote meetings?  Go to Meeting, Webex, Google Hangouts-Meet, Zoom, Skype, FreeConference Call, and Slack are all great tools that are simple to use.  There is also this other technology, a “phone call” that still works. 
  6. Do you have a plan to efficiently communicate to your customers if there is going to be a disruption in your ability to deliver a product of service?  Your customers also may need to be communicating to others if there are going to be delays.  Don’t make assumptions. 

If any of these are getting addressed for the first time, make sure you are documenting your actions.  If you’re updating previous procedures, you’ve now had fresh eyes review it and it creates a great opportunity to make sure your entire team is on the same page.   And you’ve turned a negative situation into something positive for your business.  Silver linings. It’s not all negative. 

As fast as this has been developing over the last week, it is hard to predict exactly where we will be in a month or two.  But I am confident we will get through this.  Until then, wash your hands and make good choices.   And try not to totally desert the small businesses in your community, they need you.

As always, we value your comments in the space below.  

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach