Small business owners are encouraged to practice social distancing and allow employees to work from home to reduce the threat and spread of COVID-19. Some have been ordered to close their doors.
Here are some tips we’ve compiled to ease the transition and reduce the impact.
Communicate with Employees
Communication is key as team members are scattered and working from their homes.
Ensure everyone understands their assignments and roles during this transition and that a key point of contact has been created for each area of your business. Team members should know who to reach out to for subjects such as vendors, clients, human resources and IT.
Keep employees motivated
Many employees are not used to working from home, or may struggle with staying on task during these trying times. Here is a resource you can share with employees to help ease the adjustment.
Keep in Touch with Suppliers and Vendors
Task someone with checking on the status of all vendors and what new processes or mandates they may have put in place. Create documents to track delay or cancelled deliveries or shipments. Determine a point person for vendor contacts and a process for informing leadership and staff of any interruptions or changes in services.
Talk to Your Bankers
Many banks already offer remote ways of handling banking needs. Determine whether scheduled transactions will go through and if you have enough funds to pay employees and pay for supplies. Contact your bank regarding your options. Make sure you have enough liquidity to withstand a 7-14 day shutdown or longer if quarantine requires. The Small Business Association of America has created a resource page that includes loan program information and other essential information.
It’s also advisable to talk to your insurance company to see if interruption/temporary shutdown is covered in your policy.
Determine if all staff has access to whatever technology they need to successfully complete their tasks from home. If they do not, create a process for delivering them what they need. If they are using a personal laptop, ensure you communicate any company policies regarding this. For example, many companies limit storing company files on personal devices.
Ensure all employees have access to any systems they need. Creating a point person and a tracking document for this can streamline the process and ensure you keep track of who has access to what.
Having a secure drive or storage program will be key if your team has to share files. This will encourage collaboration, while keeping company information secure. Dropbox, Google Drive or OneDrive are examples of sharing platforms.
Create virtual team check-ins
Conducting virtual team check-ins while everyone is working remotely keeps the team organized and the company goals on track. It can also help make employees still feel like a team, and less isolated in these extreme circumstances. Some ideas to keep in mind during your check-ins is to allow everyone to ask questions and discuss any obstacles that have arisen in these unique circumstances.
Make these virtual check-ins a regular occurrence for the duration of the social distancing period. A minimum of weekly check-ins can keep your employees on track and informed of expectations and goals.
Another practice to implement during team check-ins is documentation. Take notes during meetings and follow-up with action items. Create files, share files, share feedback and respond to comments. This documentation helps to keep objectives on track and makes for a more organized transition back into the office when the time comes. (If you are using Google Hangouts Chat to do your team check-ins, you can easily jot down notes within the app that are visible to the entire team.)
Here are some virtual meeting systems to help your team communicate and collaborate effectively:
Google Hangouts is a free video chatting services that allows up to 8 users at once.
Skype is free to use for chatting between Skype accounts. Unlimited calling can start at $2.99/month.
ooVoo allows up to 12 people on one chat at a time, plus screen sharing, recording messages and sending static messages. Their basic service is free and upgraded plans start as low as $2.99/month.
Discord is a free video, voice and text chatting app for phone and desktop.
Slack allows one-on-one video calls for free, and allows up to 15 people in one video chat for $6.67 /month.
Zoom offers a free basic plan that can host 40-minute meetings for 3 or more people. (One on-one-meetings are unlimited minutes.) For $14.99/month, you get 24 hours of meeting time, with an unlimited number of people on the call. It can be used on smart phones and desktops.
join.me is a customizable video-audio chatting service that offers businesses to create unique URLs, invite others to join meetings for free, screen-sharing and improved audio capabilities. Unlimited audio-conferencing calls are offered for free. Compatible with smart phones and desktop computers.
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The transition from in-office to working remotely can be stressful and daunting.
We would like to offer small businesses as many digital/social resources as possible to ease the impact and help transition during these difficult times.
Please contact us and let us know how we can help. We will be using these submissions to quickly compile as many FREE resources as possible.
Many of our team members are immune compromised and high risk. From our homes, we will also be offering free consultation calls to provide as much free advice and resources as we can throughout this time.
Click this link to contact us: https://www.imaginesocialmedia.com/contact