It’s almost impossible to escape the coronavirus (COVID-19) at the moment. No matter how you get your news, the coronavirus dominates. As much as we would like to avoid the topic as much as possible, it is affecting our lives in a variety of ways.
And, as business owners, many of us are wondering how to maintain and even increase productivity during this time. Panic is everywhere and it is easy to get caught up in the fears swirling through the media.
But it is important to remember that this isn’t the end of the world. There are ways to maintain your business despite coronavirus fears. From workplace safety measures to important online updates, BSO Digital has a range of suggestions to help support your business during the coronavirus outbreak.
1: Keeping Your Employees and Workplace Safe
For some businesses, working remotely just isn’t possible at the moment. So it’s important to encourage personal hygiene measures in the workplace. Make sure your staff have access to hospital grade sanitizer (60-955 alcohol) and handwash. Remind people to cough into their elbows, avoid touching their faces, and to wipe down surfaces regularly. This can help prevent the spread of the virus.
If employees are feeling unwell, it is very important they stay home. If they have been diagnosed with the virus – or live with someone who has coronavirus – they must self-isolate for 14 days. It is important to cut down on any, non-essential employee travel and face-to-face meetings.
2: Remote Working
For the team at BSO Digital, the safety of our clients and staff is paramount. As a result, our staff are now working from home more frequently. While we have not been directly affected by a COVID-19/coronavirus infection, we are taking careful and considered action to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our staff and clients. Modern technology actually makes remote, or working from home, options incredibly viable for most businesses.
There is a wide range of options available to make working from home easier for you and your employees. BSO Digital, for example, uses:
- Slack: for quick, text-based communication
- Paymo: for easy project management, task management, and time tracking
- Zoom and Skype: for quick and easy videoconference calls
By using a variety of online communication options, we are ensuring we maintain “business as usual”. No matter your choice/s of online communication, working remotely is easier than ever. These are temporary changes that we recommend to all businesses that have the capacity to work remotely. Not only does it allow you to continue operations and maintain productivity, you are also minimising health risks for your staff and clients.
3: What Do I Do If I, or an Employee, Has COVID-19?
Have you been diagnosed with coronavirus, or has an employee told you they have been diagnosed with it? Are you worried about what to do if this happens?
Suggestions are to immediately notify all staff and clients who have been in contact with the infected person in the last 14 days. It is also important to notify family members, as well. They will also need to be tested and self-isolate for 14 days.
If the infected person has been to your office or workplace, it will need to be closed down for a minimum of 14 days and undergo a health-certified cleaning. Every employee will need to work from home for 14 days to ensure they are symptom free.
If you or an employee have symptoms, it is important to contact your closest healthcare professional who can advise on the next steps. It is up to you if you require your employees to provide a doctor’s note regarding their infection.
4: Should I Post About Our COVID-19 Plans on Social Media?
Those of us who are active on social media know there is a lot of disinformation or “fake news” circulating online. Most, if not all, social media services are following World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines and are taking down disinformation.
Social media can both help and hurt in pandemics. As COVID-19 has spread to different countries, social media has been a quick and easy source of information for people. COVID-19 is both an epidemic and infodemic, with rumours travelling as quickly as real information.
In times like these, being accurate and to the point is important. If your business is affected by the virus – whether you’ve had to change opening times, slow down production, etc – it is important to communicate this to your audience. Upfront and transparent is the best way forward for all businesses. You can share with your audience and customers what precautions you are taking during this time.
With social isolation increasing, more people are turning to social media, not only for information, but also as a distraction. This is allowing online businesses to leverage increased traffic into genuine excitement for their products.
5: Is Coronavirus Creating Opportunities for Businesses?
It is important, in times like these, to grab potential opportunities. For example, in 2014 the London Underground strikes forced people to change how they commute. After the strike ended, 5% (or 1 in 20) people stuck to their new travel routes. As a result, the long-term gains from this change far outweighed the costs of the strike.
And the same could be true of the COVID-19 situation. As we mentioned earlier, more people are self-isolating, meaning they are stuck at home. So many are turning to online shopping and events to fill the void. Even Armani streamed their autumn/winter collection online.
By leveraging and improving your online presences during this time, you are putting yourself before a bigger potential audience. And at times like these, it is more important than ever to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
While some consumers may revert back to their old shopping patterns after the COVID-19 crisis, even a 5% increase in online shopping could make all the difference for your business.
6: The Importance of an Online Presence During Coronavirus
While the situation is being compared to the GFC, the coronavirus is a supply chain issue, not a monetary recession. It is also a disruption of normal public activity. So can your business take advantage of this by leveraging online sales?
Local businesses and sellers are booming right now because people are avoiding drop shippers where supply chain issues are. Financial reports show that online sales, across a variety of industries, have increased by anything from 2-16%. People are buying everything online, from food and necessities, to clothing, entertainment, and even animal feed.
Local business giants, like Myer, are investing in their eCommerce strategies and sales to maintain – and even increase – productivity. This means doubling down on eCommerce, advertising, improving online ranges, and making checkout and navigation faster. Companies that have stayed on the front foot during this time are dominating Google SERP results.
So it is important you do everything you can to be better, look better, and perform better than your competitors, online. It is time to push your SEO strategies, organic ranking and paid advertising.
7: Google My Business and COVID-19
Google is encouraging all businesses that use Google My Business to update their details during this outbreak. If your business has been affected by the virus, it is important to update your profile with the most accurate information possible.
Have you changed hours? Are you closing early? Do you need to add more details to your description? It is important you add these, now, to keep yourself relevant to online shoppers.
There are many ways to ensure your customers have the latest information about your business. If you need to do so, update the times when you’ll be open or closed. These changes will show when customers visit your business profile. This way they will know exactly when they can visit and limit their exposure.
You can also manage your information by explain whether or not your business is affected by COVID-19. You can share what extra precautions you are taking, if you are providing extra services to the community and if you are experiencing any delays.
Google My Business also allows business owners to make posts. This is a fantastic way to share more detailed and timely updates about what is going on with your business. You can also add information about what products and services are available, as well as link your customers to other resources. Posts allow you to regularly and directly communicate with your customers.
Finally, while you are looking at your Google My Business account, check that all your information is currently up to date. This includes your phone number. By providing an up to date phone number, customers can reach you when needed to check on stock and supplies, or confirm bookings.
BSO Digital is here for all our clients during the coronavirus crisis. Remember to stay safe and feel free to contact us with any questions you might have about your website and marketing strategies at this time.