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So, what are the answers to the questions business owners are asking? Unfortunately, I don’t have all of them.
But, I do have over 30 years of experience, complete with dealing with recessions and other trying times. I can share what I know — and what I know is how to ask the right questions and weigh your options.
4 coronavirus-related questions you may have
Covid-19 temporarily changed the way businesses operate nationwide. But could these temporary changes lead to permanent shake-ups? In my opinion, Covid-19 has changed business forever.
So, here are some of the top questions business owners are asking:
1. Should I take my business fully remote?
For 31% of businesses, the coronavirus was the push they needed to start allowing remote work.
If you’re like one of the many businesses that took flight and moved to remote work at the start of the pandemic, you might be wondering whether you should stay remote after social distancing dissipates.
Well, I can’t answer that for you. But if this great work-from-home experiment has been working out for you, it might be worth looking into.
Speaking for my company, Patriot Software, the work-from-home experiment has gone really well. COVID-19 expedited our ability and need to work remotely. It’s been nearly three months, and we’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.
Ask yourself some more questions like:
Did my business’s productivity levels drop?
Is this maintainable over a longer period of time?
What will my employees think about it?
What will my customers think about it?
You have to look at your business model and operations to assess whether a permanent work-from-home model would be right for you. In some cases, it won’t work. And in some, it can work.
Some advantages of working remote include:
Greater flexibility for employees
The ability to attract talent from anywhere
Decreased overhead costs
Some disadvantages of a fully remote office might be:
On the fence? Carry out the experiment a little while longer. Try incorporating remote work into your business (if you didn’t already) even when you go back to the office. Have employees work from home a few days a week and on-site part of the week.
Take notes, gather statistics and metrics (I can’t emphasize this enough), get employee feedback, and whatever else you can think of to figure out if going completely remote is the way to go for your business.
2. Should I offer employees paid time off?
Another question I’ve heard some business owners asking is whether paid time off (PTO) should be part of your benefits package.
When Covid-19 was kicking into high gear, one of the concerns was sick employees refusing to take off work because of money. Although the coronavirus sparked emergency legislation that requires eligible employers to temporarily offer paid sick and family leave to employees, it’s not permanent.
So, when the federally-mandated coronavirus paid time off expires, what will you do?
You might consider adopting a paid time off policy in your business. That way, employees can take time off when they are sick, have an appointment, or need a break without having to worry about money. At the very least, you might insist on having employees work from home if they have a nagging cough or stuffy nose.
3. How can I prepare for future emergencies?
If your emergency preparedness plan was nonexistent pre-coronavirus, you might have been left scrambling.
But instead of thinking in terms of What if? and If only…, you can take it as a lesson and plan for the future.
An emergency plan won’t be the end-all-be-all when disaster strikes. You just never know what will be thrown your way. But by having a guidebook in place that outlines things like company communications, you’ll be better prepared.
Whether it’s a pandemic, natural disaster, or another emergency, your plan should outline things like:
How you’ll communicate with employees
Who to contact (e.g., vendors and insurance agents)
Alternative work arrangement procedures (e.g., working remotely)
4. What are my business’s strengths and weaknesses?
Covid-19 may have highlighted your business’s strengths. Unfortunately, it probably called to light quite a few of your weaknesses, too.
Here’s what you need to do. Jot down your strengths and weaknesses. You can even make a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) to better organize your observations.
Look at your business throughout the coronavirus and ask yourself:
What is my business doing well?
What am I doing better than my competitors?
What made me stand out?
Where did I fall short?
How can I improve ineffective systems?
What are some areas that were costly or time-consuming?
Of course, don’t beat yourself up. You’re going to have some weaknesses when dealing with a global pandemic, and some of those aren’t your fault.
But by observing your business’s strengths and weaknesses, you can find ways to build up your weaknesses and showcase your strengths.