How to help your business and your employees during the coronavirus

The world is in lockdown, but it doesn’t have to stop. Here are some instant tips on surviving these dark days, as a business, as an employer, an employee – and a person… Many thanks to QuickBooks

by QuickBooks
Last Updated: 02 Apr 2020

Best practices for remote working

Make sure employees have the tools and equipment they need to work effectively. This includes instant messaging apps, video conferencing tools, and reliable internet access. For many, equipment needed includes a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Encourage employees to designate a workspace in their home. Separating work from life helps employees focus and stay organised throughout the day.

Clearly communicate remote team expectations. Employees should know when they’re expected to be on and working, how to communicate availability, and which meetings they’re expected to attend virtually.

Take precautions to keep your business data and your employees safe. Avoid using public networks. Work in a private space like a home office rather than a coffee shop or co-working space.

Instant tips for virtual events

Mix in multimedia. When hosting a virtual conference, it helps to keep participants engaged with periodic challenges and opportunities to participate. And social media provides an excellent avenue for getting involved from any location.

Put dynamic speakers on camera. A person doesn’t have to be in the room to command a presence, but they do have to feel comfortable talking on camera. Try to book speakers with experience being on camera, or ask for a recorded sample before booking them to speak.

Pre-record when possible. It’s less fun than a live recording, but pre-recording can help minimise the risk of technology glitches mid-talk. If pre-recording isn’t an option, try a tool, like Facebook Live, that can accommodate more traffic at once. Just be sure the speaker has a strong internet connection first.

Create conversation spaces. One of the best parts of attending a conference is networking. Give attendees the opportunity to connect by inviting them to a messaging platform like Slack or Teams. Set up channels inside those tools, based around topics of discussion.

Boosting employee morale

Working remotely can leave employees feeling disconnected from teams and co-workers. But teamwork is an important ingredient for productivity. Here are a few tips to help keep employees’ connections thriving.

Schedule and prioritize virtual hangouts with team members. Put time on the calendar just to catch up with co-workers and maintain personal relationships.

Consider creating a virtual water cooler. Start a dedicated chat channel or video conference link that’s live all day. Employees can pop in and out as time permits, much like meeting in the kitchen.

Encourage employee interaction through virtual challenges. Ask employees to post a picture of their four-legged co-workers, share their best home-office tips, or collaborate on a team playlist.

Challenge your team to come up with fresh ideas each week. Find new ways to team build: remember, the goal is to limit contact with others, so forming a human knot isn’t a good idea. Instead, look for online team-building opportunities. Slack extensions like Donut can pair up team members for virtual one-on-one conversations. 

QuickBooks have put together some employee engagement programmes which are really making a difference. They are holding a very successful weekly all-hands meetings including a Q&A, which allows employees to ask questions and voice concerns directly with management. There’s a virtual ‘all company quick quiz’ every Friday afternoon, which has had great participation rates and continued interaction afterwards, to wind down the week. 

Be transparent and practice patience. You’re all in this together. As you work through your new reality, remind employees to give one another a little patience and grace.

Financial preparedness

If your business financials feel volatile, you’re not alone. Here are some other ways business owners can ensure as few financial losses as possible…

Build out a business continuity plan. Jot down worst-case scenarios and potential business struggles. Then finalise a plan for dealing with those problems before they arise. This is your guide to moving forward with speed and confidence.

Build a supply continuity plan. This plan focuses on getting all the goods and resources you need from alternative sources, should a vendor cease production.

Create a communication strategy. This should be internal and external, to reduce confusion. Decide what you need to tell investors, employees, and contractors, and create a chain of command so messaging goes through proper channels.

For more information and tips on how to protect your business and employees during the coronavirus pandemic, QuickBooks has put together comprehensive guides, available here.

Image credit: John Cameron/Unsplash

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