Rewind just a handful of weeks and no one would even know what the acronym “COVID19” stands for. Today, everybody knows. This new novel coronavirus has taken over worldwide newfeeds and shuttered businesses across the globe.
Those businesses that haven’t shut down entirely are adjusting in real time, finding creative ways to serve customers and stay financially afloat themselves.
In this article, we outline some of the many strategies businesses of all sizes are employing to cope with the global threat to health as well as their own economic survival.
The Rise of the Remote Workplace
With social distancing in force for the foreseeable near future, a new remote workforce has risen up in record time. Employees who have been dreaming of telecommuting have seen their wishes come true, although not under the circumstances anyone would wish for.
Others are struggling to adjust as cramped home quarters must now accommodate children who need homeschooling and work-from-home office space.
Webinars using tools such as Zoom, WhatsApp and Google Hangouts are now the new normal for education as well as business-as-usual.
Some experts are now calling this the “pandemic economy” and speculation is running rampant as to how long it will last and what the end game might look like.
Hardest Hit Industries Spark a Dramatic Rise in Unemployment Claims
In some industries, simply shifting to a remote workforce isn’t coming close to addressing losses.
Take the airline industry, for example. No rides equals no fares. No fares equals no profits….and no way to maintain payroll. Another industry decimated by the pandemic is the online concert tickets business.
Economic stimulus checks may temporarily alleviate urgent needs. But the skyrocketing unemployment applications speak to the urgency of finding a longer-term solution.
In the meantime, some companies are getting what may be a long-overdue wakeup call about the true character of their workers. Even as paycheck funds dry up, some leaders are finding creative ways to keep valued employees employed.
Small business loans designed for this very purpose are one way some companies are trying to hold on to their workforce, at least in the short-term.
A Whole New, More Secure Virtual World
The sudden demand for virtual co-working services has spawned a need for increased security measures as hackers have made their way inside closed Zoom calls and turned the world wide web into a powerful instrument of fear-mongering.
Yet Zoom and other virtual workforce tools have moved quickly to respond to emerging threats of this kind, even while employers are ramping up their own in-house security protocols and risk management projections.
This kind of rapid response is exactly what is needed to address the threats and ensure these tools are available for the long haul.
Special Considerations for High-Risk Customers
The urgent need to protect customers in the most vulnerable, high-risk populations (the elderly, pregnant moms-to-be, those with autoimmune or existing respiratory health issues), brick-and-mortar businesses of all shapes and sizes are making immediate adjustments.
The most visible adjustment is alteration to normal store operating hours. Reduced public hours gives stores more time to sanitize and do deep cleaning.
Employees are now issued masks, gloves and hand sanitizing cleaners as part of standard operating procedure. Many grocery stores have employees on hand to wipe down grocery carts before issuing them to shoppers.
Many grocers have also instituted special shopping hours for seniors only.
Delivery Business Is Booming
As often happens with a major economic shift, not every business is struggling during the pandemic. Delivery services such as Instacart are in such high demand regional managers are struggling to meet the need with their existing workforce.
Restaurants, pubs, bars and coffeehouses, which have been particularly hard-hit by the brick-and-mortar shutdowns in many areas, have started shifting to a deliver or pick-up only business model.
Some innovative restauranteurs are now setting up their own makeshift carry-out or delivery grocery services, where customers can order premium meats, cheeses, wines and specialty items most grocers won’t carry.
In the same way, fuel companies and other wholesalers and distributors are now selling or renting fuel tanks and essential supplies directly to hospitals and similar critical industries.
Moving During a Pandemic
Current estimates suggest as many as 10 to 20 percent of Americans move in any given year.
While it is undoubtedly much more difficult to coordinate a move, a job transfer or a transition to a new area during this outbreak, it is still happening.
Thankfully for these individuals, moving companies have also been designated as “essential services.”
Moving companies are responding by issuing revised moving guidelines highlighting no-contact estimates, contract execution and payment options. Moving crews are being asked to wear protective gear and use sanitizing cleaners. Here’s what you should know when moving during the coronavirus.
Low to no-contact moving protocols and social distancing as standard practice are also helping to protect the most vulnerable families.