The coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted how business is being done across the globe. Approximately 70% of small businesses are grappling with debt at this time. If you’re one of the businesses that have managed to survive so far, it’s time to start preparing for the future. Here are 12 business-related things to focus on when quarantine ends.
Data Privacy Concerns
The pandemic is significantly impacting data privacy issues and concerns. Data restrictions have been lifted for health officials to track the spread of the virus among individuals. However, this tracking can expose sensitive personal information. As more businesses conduct business online, security concerns increase even more. Maintaining consumer trust regarding the use of their information after the pandemic will be critical for every business.
Business owners may want to focus on improving business security solutions once the quarantine ends. There has been an increase in cybersecurity attacks since the pandemic began. Businesses can help protect themselves from moving forward by training employees in cybersecurity awareness and hardening new network components for working with remote employees and contractors. Regular cyber diagnostic assessments should be conducted to identify weaknesses.
Door To Door Delivery Options
Door to door delivery has seen a significant increase because of the social distancing regulations surrounding the pandemic. Before the pandemic, only 5% of people living in the U.S. ordered groceries or takeout online. Currently, one out of three Americans purchase groceries online and expect door to door delivery. After the quarantine ends, it’s highly likely that consumers will continue this behavior. Finding ways to deliver your product or service directly to your customer’s home will be incredibly important.
There are concerns with door-to-door delivery you’ll need to address if you want to offer this service. Independent contractor theft is one of the common concerns. There have been numerous reports of contractors taking food from delivery orders or taking a customer’s cash without delivering the goods. You’ll need to find ways to help mitigate these losses and protect your customers.
If your business is not conducive for door to door delivery, then you may want to focus on stepping up your e-commerce game. Make sure your website is secure for financial transactions. Ensure that you have enough inventory to meet the demands of all the items on your website. Work on ways you can provide virtual experiences for customers for things such as product demonstrations.
Business Garbage Pickup
Since people have been ordered to stay at home, the volume of residential waste has dramatically spiked. Many cities have even suspended yard waste collection and bulk pick-up services to protect workers from getting sick. Meanwhile, business garbage pickup has been cut in half as many non-essential businesses have been closed. Those that have remained open have taken measures to reduce their waste and cut down the frequency of pickups.
There’s no consensus on how the sanitation industry will be impacted once the quarantine restrictions are lifted. Businesses may want to plan for the possibility of their garbage pickup becoming an on-call service. It may be helpful to look at ways to reduce waste while the sanitation industry adapts to handling a potential overload in handling waste services that were suspended over the course of a few months.
If the shelter-in-place regulations continue once summer starts, the demand for electricity could place an overwhelming demand for thermal power systems. This can create even more problems for an already stressed system if the restrictions are suddenly lifted. It may be hard for businesses that are reopening to schedule business electrical installations as workers struggle to keep up with demand. Business owners may want to think about having alternative energy solutions in place after the quarantine ends.
Shifting to wind or solar energy solutions can save business owners money and reduce any negative impact from overwhelmed power grids. The oil industry is currently struggling as inventory skyrockets but demand is low because everyone is staying home. Many drilling companies have closed their doors. It may be hard to keep up with energy demand once restrictions are lifted with increased temperatures and supply chains down.
Companies that deal with asbestos inspection and removal have been relatively unaffected because of the pandemic. Although they aren’t considered an essential service, many companies whose services were suspended turned to COVID-19 cleanup because they already had all the necessary personal protective equipment. Once the quarantine ends, these services will go back to operating the way they did before the pandemic began.
During the pandemic, shoppers have gotten used to seeing digital signs communicating various policies about the pandemic. Stores have used them to communicate changes in their business hours and steps they’re taking to keep everything sanitized. Digital signage is expected to see an increase in use after the pandemic has passed.
Here are some ways your business can use a digital signage solution after quarantine ends. Use digital signs to advertise your reopening and welcome your customers back. Tell customers what they can expect from you in continuing to keep your establishment virus free. Focus on whatever needs arise for your customers post-pandemic and use digital signs to address them.
Heating and cooling companies have remained as an essential service throughout the pandemic. They’ve had to adapt to stricter regulations to keep their employees and customers safe. How the industry will continue operations beyond the pandemic is unknown at this time. However, their services are expected to be in high demand as temperatures rise.
You may see some delays in service availability for AC repair after the quarantine ends. You can reduce the need for service by taking care of your AC unit before summer hits. Shut off the power to the unit and open the fan cage with a screwdriver to clean out any debris. Clean the fins and change the air filters. Wipe down the coils before replacing the fan cage. Minimize the use of your unit as much as you can.
If you do end up needing professional repair services, it may be a good idea to ask them if they are any safety policy changes you should be aware of. It’s possible that measures currently being taken will continue for a short period after the pandemic has passed. The technician will help you know what steps you may need to take for your employees and customers before they arrive.
The pandemic has shifted work and school life to the comforts of people’s homes. As more people and companies rely on computers to conduct business, the need for computer repair will be on the rise to keep things running smoothly. Companies can focus on investing in improving their technology to effectively communicate with their customers and remote workers.
Business owners should consider providing greater access to video and chat conferencing systems to help employees stay connected and improve productivity levels. A greater focus will need to be in place to protect against unauthorized transactions or instructions from cyber attacks. Video conferencing can be used to confirm a transaction approval to protect against fraudulent emails.
Corporate Office Design
Before the pandemic, many corporate workspaces were large open spaces with multiple shared desks and an in-house coffee bar. But that may change once the quarantine ends. Companies are focusing on ways to create a virus-free work environment. To lower the risk, businesses are designing corporate offices to contain fewer people in any particular space.
In order to accomplish this goal in the future, this may mean the elimination of shared desks and elbow-to-elbow seating. Ventilation systems may be configured to have airflow downwards instead of upwards. It may also mean the end of buffets or pizza parties to celebrate the accomplishment of set goals.
Cubicles may be expected to make a return equipped with a new feature: a sneeze guard. Desks may be equipped with tall plastic barriers extending over them to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. The touchpad employees use to enter a secured building may be changed to the use of a key fob or Bluetooth enabled device. There are also discussions on finding ways to create a barrier in between people as they sit at conference tables.
Business owners may want to focus on how they will maintain cash flow until the economy is able to stabilize after the quarantine ends. There needs to be enough money to restock inventory, pay employees, and cover overhead expenses. It’s important to look for and secure financial capital now so you’ll be ready. Lenders are currently cautious about loan approvals, so it may take you some time to get the financing you need.
There are numerous loans and grants that you can apply for now that will help you be able to reserve cash when the quarantine ends. Check with the Small Business Administration or your state government’s website to find out more information on financing you may be eligible for. With interest rates currently being low, you can get funding and not have to worry about huge payback amounts while trying to reestablish after the quarantine.
To help with business expenses, look for ways you can cut costs to build up available cash funds. If remote work went well during the pandemic, you may want to keep operating that way instead of paying for expensive real estate costs. Find ways your business can become more energy efficient to reduce utility bills.
Your business policies regarding workforce management may need to be updated after the quarantine ends. There will be a greater focus on the impact employee health will have on workplace productivity. You’ll need to consider what infection control measures will need to stay in place once restrictions are lifted. You may want to focus on installing more hand sanitizing stations and train employees on proper hygiene and sanitation methods.
You may need to modify existing sick leave and vacation policies. You may want to extend the number of available sick days or find ways employees can work without using them up. If you don’t currently offer it already, you may want to establish ways an employee can still work from home instead of coming in sick. Identify the minimal essential staffing requirements for your business to still operate efficiently. Consider cross-training employees for the most critical roles so that you can still have the position covered if someone calls in sick.
You may also want to expand your insurance options for employees. You can look for insurance policies that include telehealth services that may reduce your overall costs. Telehealth visits are typically cheaper than in-person doctor appointments. This can give employees the ability to receive medical care without needing to take time off of work.
Future Outbreak Planning Preparation
As business resumes after the quarantine ends, there’s still a strong probability that a second outbreak might occur. You may want to consider focusing on developing protocol regarding future pandemics. How will employees report exposure and symptoms of an infectious disease? To whom will the employee disclose this information and how will privacy be maintained? How will temporary shutdowns be conducted? What other measures will you need to have in place?
Many of your current policies may not need to be altered or only changed slightly. However, it’s a good idea to review your policies in light of what has happened with the coronavirus pandemic. A second wave could potentially have an even greater impact on your business operations, especially with the economy trying to recover from turmoil. Taking actions to improve your disaster preparedness may help you minimize any business disruptions.
It’s important that business owners prepare for how business will be conducted once the quarantine ends. It will take some time to adapt fully before any routine can be established. For some businesses, things will remain the same or vastly improve if they were closed. Others that have prospered during the pandemic may flounder once the quarantine ends. By focusing on how you can better serve your customers, you’ll be able to thrive and reap numerous benefits far into the future.