COVID 19 – A Second Wave?
According to the Academy of Medical Sciences a week or so ago, “ the UK must prepare now for a potential new wave of coronavirus this winter that could be more serious than the first. “ Indeed it appears that anyone with a science degree is predicting the same and so with an official death toll of 45 752, it looks like we may be in for a very rough winter indeed. COVID which may live longer in colder conditions, it isn’t getting any weaker, we have no vaccine, track and trace isn’t working and coupled with seasonal flu, this is going to potentially land us in the perfect storm. Please see https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus for truly terrifying real-time analytics of the deaths worldwide. And so my question is – what can we businesses do to survive?
In no particular order here are a few tips I have harvested –
Learn from the last 4 months.
Have your staff been able to work remotely? Have you made use of the furlough schemes and any available finance available ( be it CBIL, grants or Bounce back loans )? One point worth bearing in mind is that the financial markets are going to harden and borrowing won’t be easy to come by. Sure there will always be lenders, but the cost of borrowing is going to get a lot dearer with more onerous terms if you fit the tougher criteria. Let’s face it, the banks haven’t been exactly on the side of small businesses and have a habit of looking after themselves to the business communities detriment historically when it suited. So whilst there may be a lull in the storm, repeat the mantra that “ cash is king “ over and over again. I read of late that a change back to the old days of actually saving and having liquid reserves in your business is going to be a lot more mainstream instead of the hand to mouth models adopted nowadays with the buy now, pay later salvage net of borrowing.
If you are wanting all your staff to return soon, have you done your risk assessments? stocked up on PPE and hand sanitizer in case the supply lines get disrupted again? Have you adopted a stringent and thorough cleaning policy? For those working at home – has their work station been risk assessed ? are they aware of having regular breaks from their screens? what is your contingency plan if one of your staff gets infected and needs quarantining, how will that impact on your resources and can you cover? Do you change the terms and conditions of a) your employees re working at home and b) your supply contracts to add in a robust force majeure clause?
Work on these over and over again as the market is changing constantly at the moment, again plan for the worst and anything else is a bonus. Have you cut your overheads sensibly and wherever possible? We can’t trade in the market we wish to be in but the one that we are actually in and so having those luxury/ non-essential personnel or expenses on your books maybe need looking at again especially as the furlough regime is due to change. One thing that can be predicted is that we aren’t in this together at all and the government assistance will NOT be repeated as quite simply they haven’t got the money next time around.
Work differently, work smarter.
The days of pressing the flesh and going to corporate hospitality events are a distant memory or at least for now so how can you engage with your existing and as importantly, your new clients? Use what is available so at its simplest level – pick up the phone. It’s amazing how well received is a text or phone call. As a species communication is part of our social DNA and we want to talk and socialise with other humans. Take it up to the next level and have video conferences on Zoom or Teams, or if that’s a step too far – face time or whats app video your clients and colleagues – these are more basic video links but nevertheless still effective.
Keep a close eye on the market and your competition.
Knowledge is power has never been more true than at present so keep abreast of whats going on in your world and make your own waves. With the downtime, turn your energies to sorting out your admin, making those calls you never quite got around to, read more and try to stay ahead of the pack or make your company different by doing free webinars, increasing your social media presence, and finally talk to your staff a lot more who need you as the boss more than ever to get them through.
This may get quite tough for a lot of companies so please don’t get complacent. If you wish to discuss any of the above issues or other legal challenges please don’t hesitate to contact Giles Ward at Milners Solicitors on 0113 245 0852