How Businesses are Responding to COVID-19

A detailed list from real businesses on how they are handling COVID-19

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Let face it — it’s a stressful and emotional time.

COVID-19 is impacting all types of businesses, large and small. As entire sectors of the economy are closing its doors, businesses are now looking at all options to help keep their employees afloat while waiting for SBA emergency loans.

Many companies didn’t have a handbook at the ready to help employees adjust to a pandemic. But businesses are quickly adjusting their day-to-day operations to help their employees and customers.

Check out this list of what companies are doing and strategies to help your business move operations online.

Paid leave

As cities, counties, and states are issuing shelter-in-place orders and ordering non-essential businesses to close, many Americans are being forced to miss work.

In response, companies have arranged for all employees to have paid sick leave.

Sick leave in response to Coronavirus

Some companies have shifted their sick leave policy since the spread of coronavirus.

  • Uber has updated its paid sick leave policies in response to the coronavirus. Even though Uber drivers are independent contractors (and not entitled to benefits), the company announced that 14 days of paid sick leave would be given to any drivers that are diagnosed with coronavirus or are required to be in isolation by local or federal legislation and cannot carry out their work.
  • Lyft also announced it would provide funds to drivers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 or put under individual quarantine by a public health agency.
  • Facebook announced it is offering a month of paid leave to care for sick family members. The tech company also announced it would pay $1,000 bonuses to cover work-at-home expenses and child care.

If your small business is unable to offer the type of paid leave these companies are offering, you can still review your sick leave policy and clearly communicate it to employees so they understand exactly what it entails.

Working from home with children

For those fortunate enough to be able to, many companies have required staff to work from home. This may create a big need for improvisation since workers have to contend with a work-from-home learning curve.

As schools and daycare centers have closed, parents working from home are forced to work full time without childcare.

Some organizations are providing free resources for kids to help keep them afloat in their academics and to help them be entertained.

Adobe is offering free access to its Creative Cloud apps to students and educators who are at home through May 31.

Babbel is offering K-12 and college students free 3-month access to all of its language learning lessons.

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy created an educational toolkit to help parents and children learn together at home.

Remember to communicate with clients and colleagues that you are pulling a double duty at home.

Other resources

Starbucks also took the lead in offering its employees a range of mental health resources. Starbucks’ CEO recently announced that store partners have access to mental health resources, such as free counseling through its employee assistance program and the meditation app Headspace.

GoFundMe launched a Small Business Relief Initiative to support local businesses facing financial loss from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Free small business software

Loom, a teleconferencing platform, has offered their services for free or a deeply discounted rate. There is a generous package for whatever your need may be.

Microsoft is offering a 60-Day free trial of Office 365 E1.

Another business essential tool that has responded to coronavirus is Google Suite. Users can get Google Hangouts Meet for free until July 1, 2020.

If you’re looking for a tool to create social media graphics or other marketing materials, Canva is offering 30 days of Canva Pro for free.

Zenefits is offering free payroll software for a year. Learn more here.

Taking brick-and-mortar businesses online

One of the biggest challenges small businesses face is connecting with customers outside of their brick-and-mortar locations. Despite the adversity, many small businesses have proven their resilience by taking their business online.

Personal trainers have gone online, offering modified versions of their services to clients through using Zoom or other video conferencing tools.

Therapists are opting for telehealth options with clients.

Small business coffee shop owners are setting up temporary shopping options on their websites and social media.

For many businesses, these efforts are to help them stay afloat, and rightfully so, but it is also a genuine attempt to show their customers that they are loyal to them and care.

Check out this helpful article to learn more about the creative and nontraditional opportunities that businesses are taking.

Restaurants moving to a to-go model

Many restaurants are opting for a “to go” business model. Dining rooms in major restaurants across the country have closed completely to the public.

To encourage customers to order takeout, businesses are taking to social media to offer daily specials and new menu items. Understanding that many people are uncomfortable ordering food at this time, small businesses are encouraging people to purchase gift cards online for future use.

These businesses are also taking the opportunity to educate customers on the precautions that they have taken to disinfect and clean the restaurant to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Companies are operating on a “call ahead” or ordering via mobile apps system. Customers are then able to drive to the curbside or go through the drive-thru to pick up their orders. This limits the contact between people and lowers the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Many restaurants are asking employees to continuously wear gloves and masks for their own safety as well as the safety of the customer.

Disinfecting workplaces

For businesses that are still open, disinfecting the workplace is a vital component in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.

The CDC outlines the best protocols for disinfecting workspaces. These specific guidelines should be followed and posted widely for employees to see. Companies should also hold training to go over the guidelines and how they specifically translate into their specific workplace.

Businesses are using social media to ensure the public of their efforts to disinfect on a daily basis. Many CEOs are publishing letters regarding the coronavirus and their strategy to implement the correct protocols to ensure the safety of their customers, employees, and the public.

Communicating on a larger platform provides the business with the opportunity to ease their customers’ fears. Although it’s not mandatory to make a public statement on disinfectant standards, it’s highly favored by the public and should be considered best practices.

The best business model

Perhaps your business is small and you’re unsure of next steps.

The best business model right now is one that prioritizes your health and the health of those that help make your business a reality — your loved ones and customers. Take time to check in on your employees and co-workers. See if there are options for your business to go to an improvised online format for the next few months.

In the meantime, research business strengthening ideas, think creatively, and take care of yourself.

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