For most, if not all, business owners COVID-19 has proven to be their biggest challenge yet. During the last couple of months, I’ve witnessed, firsthand, the resilience of many business owners determined to make it through these unprecedented times. As your business begins to reopen, I encourage you to take the time to assess your business practices to make sure they align with the new business work environment.
In order to help your business thrive in a post- COVID-19 world, you’ll need to assess all of your policies, procedures, systems, operations to make sure they protect your business and your employees moving forward. I’ve outlined some key areas to focus on as you prepare for “business as usual”.
Review your policies and procedures
Since non-essential businesses will gradually begin reopening, use this downtime to your advantage. Review your policy manuals to ensure you incorporate COVID-19 specific language in regards to your sick and personal leave policies, and your travel and vacation policies.
Specifically, what is the process if an employee falls ill? You’ll need to consider if you’ll require your employees to disclose their symptoms and allow them to work remotely during self-isolation. Similarly, if your employees choose to travel on their own time if and when travel restrictions are lifted, you may want to consider imposing a self-isolation period upon their return. Though many employers have already restricted non-essential business travel, you cannot ban your employees from leisure travel on their own time. Instead, you may opt to urge your employees to follow travel advisories by the Canadian government and strongly advise against international travel if that is the case.
Another policy worth revisiting is remote working. If schools and childcare centres remain closed, your employees will likely seek remote working opportunities. I recommend setting clear expectations for employees who work remotely, and discussing an agreed upon timeframe if they are granted this opportunity, subject to further developments regarding closures.
Additionally, I suggest thinking about additional costs these opportunities may produce in regards to covering expenses for phone and internet if you elect to cover these expenses for remote workers.
Outlining clear expectations for both you as an employer and your employees will ensure your business runs smoothly given any of the aforementioned scenarios.
Improve your infrastructure
For some businesses, the swift change to working remotely may have exposed weaknesses in your I.T. infrastructure. Ensuring you have access to all of your required resources in a safe and secure manner should be a top priority for any business.
With an influx of remote workers, there has been an increased risk of cyber security threats. As such, what will you do to mitigate these risks? Consider implementing a policy that requires your employees to only work from approved devices that have been optimized for security, or introduce a system such as multi-factor authentication to access company-sensitive software. If you’re a small or medium-sized business, these concerns should be of high priority considering 67% of companies with fewer than 1, 000 employees have experienced a cyber-attack.
Plan for human resources risks
Your employees are an essential part of your business. For this reason, it’s important to think about how an absence of any given member of your team and their responsibilities may impact your business. If a key member falls ill and is unable to fulfill their duties, who will take over? It’s important to identify your key members and their responsibilities, as well as the impacts an absence of these functions may have on your business. Keep in mind that employees can leave for numerous reasons, so your plan should be consistent among different types of scenarios (i.e. illness, death, resignation, etc.).
Take the time now to address any post-COVID business changes that may impact your policies, processes, operations or any other facet of your business. You’re not in this alone; remember at TAB, there are business owners ready to share their knowledge and insights with you. Contact me to find out how you can get involved.