Working Safely Around COVID-19: A guide to preparing your business for any situation

Smartvault.com

March 26, 2020

The recent COVID-19 (or Coronavirus) outbreak is probably the most pressing topic on everyone’s mind. While most of us are familiar with the guidelines for how we can protect ourselves and our homes, have you given thought to how you can protect your business during this time? Coronavirus is of course the latest global issue, but there are many scenarios from which we need to protect ourselves (such as fire or flooding) and our businesses should be set up to be agile in the face of any unexpected disasters.

The good news is you don’t have to think of every event that could possibly happen. Just follow the simple framework we’ve outlined in this guide to ensure your business keeps running no matter what.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Customer service is always important, and there should never be a disruption in the service levels your clients receive, no matter what the situation. So, how do you give good customer service whilst reducing the risk of catching or passing on Coronavirus?

  • Instead of in-person meetings, adopt professional systems such as Skype, Zoom or GoToMeeting so that you can share your screen or webcam with customers. This will allow you to have personal interaction with your customer, whilst keeping both of you safe.
  • Are there any new regulations or changes you wish to share with customers or team members? Why not host your own webinar, allowing them to learn what’s new without attending in-person training days or conferences?
  • Look into other ways to send documents – do your clients send you information through the post or drop them by your office? Why not encourage them to upload documents directly into a secure client portal? Remember, never send documents over email as it is not secure, if you’re attaching documents do it via a secure client portal.

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Many conferences have been cancelled due to Coronavirus (most recently QuickBooks Connect and Google I/O) so instead, why not sign up for online webinars or eBooks which help you learn about the latest news or technology advancements for your industry. SmartVault has its own education centre – but also check your governing body to see how they can help. Why not take notes and present them back to your team (and ask others on your team to do the same) so you’re sharing knowledge.

WORKING FROM HOME

As part of population distancing strategies, some companies have started to recommend their staff work from home. Of course, working from home can be challenging so here are some tips on how to manage the most common issues:

  • Set up a dedicated room, or if you don’t have the space, a dedicated area for working. This will mean you can dissociate from ‘being at home’ and reduce distractions. For example, try clearing your dressing or dining table from the usual paraphernalia and set up your laptop alongside a mouse, a pot of pens/pencils, a workbook or two and a headset for any video calls.
  • Set yourself a time to be working – if you usually work 9-5, keep that going. But remember to take regular breaks as you would in the office.
  • If you have a lot of distractions at home, such as children or a partner that’s always eager to chat, then communicate to them that you’re working and not to be distracted. Try writing a note and sticking it on the door so they know not to disturb you.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING

It’s important to continue running your business as effectively as always, so if you do decide to reduce staff movement, it’s essential you put some plans in place and communicate these to all members of staff.

  • Team meetings should still go ahead – if anyone is at home either self-isolating or because you have a working from home policy in place, that doesn’t mean cancelling meetings. You can continue running meetings over Skype or GoToMeeting.
  • Ensure staff have access to documents, working papers, client files, etc. Upload them into the cloud so staff can access if they need to work from home.
  • Ensure staff communication remains open. Use an Instant Messaging tool such as Slack or Flock, to allow staff to message each other when asking questions rather than blocking up Inboxes by sending emails. If you’re a small business, set up a WhatsApp group to open dialogue.
  • Don’t let productivity be stifled, utilise your practise management solution to manage projects, workflow and collaboration. That way you can ensure staff are all working towards the same goal and deadlines are not missed.

3 THINGS YOU CAN DO TODAY TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

1) Move data to the cloud

The best way to enable home-working is to have all your data accessible via a web browser. Many of us will be on cloud-based accounting or tax software already, but will need access to a local network in the office to access payroll or HR data. By moving ALL data to the cloud, we can build an office that can become fully remote when required.

2) Share documents electronically

Implementing a client portal means documents do not need to go in the post (or by unsecure email), and also means you can increase client serviceability by giving them 24/7 access to their files. Online document storage also means any employees can access documents from home, so reduces time needed to be spent in the office.

3) Adopt an e-signature platform

Implementing electronic signatures means we don’t need to print or post signed documents. It also means if a customer wants a copy of a signed document they can log in and get it whenever they want.

We highly recommend that all businesses create a Disaster Recovery Plan to ensure your business doesn’t skip a beat in the wake of an unforeseen event. Download a free DRP checklist from SmartVault today.

Download your Disaster Recovery Checklist