The outbreak of coronavirus strain COVID-19 has brought about radical changes for business owners around the world. As they are faced with the possibilities of closures, lay-offs, and revenue loss, businesses have been strategizing and reorganizing in order to both survive and assist their employees.
Small businesses, in particular, are struggling to decide whether to shut down, allow workers to work remotely, or lay off their workforce altogether. Owners are faced with such difficult questions as to whether they could afford to pay for a quarantined employee.
In spite of the challenges, many have discovered there are hidden economic opportunities in the midst of the pandemic.
Read on to learn about some of the ways you can position your business to see both short and long term results while undergoing cost-saving measures during and after the crisis.
Expand or Alter Your Services
It’s important to realize that your customers are also likely struggling to adjust during these challenging times. By stepping in and filling a gap, you can continue serving your clients and bringing in income.
For example, a diner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin adapted to city-wide restrictions on businesses classified as non-essential by transforming into a grocery store to continue operating. While your business may not have to go to that extreme, it is worthwhile to think of what service offerings you can add or change for clients.
Here are some examples:
Does your company traditionally have face-to-face meetings with clients? Consider using video conferencing technology like Zoom or Microsoft Teams (formerly known as Skype, it’s not integrated into Teams) to practice social distancing and boost productivity.
Have a brick and mortar shop? Set up systems for online ordering or promote your e-commerce site.
By embracing new strategies, your business can still make sales and even reduce the costs associated with physical locations. If these strategies are successful, you can integrate them into normal operations after the virus subsides.
Consider Remote Work Setups to Maintain Productivity
The coronavirus outbreak has led to renewed interest and the need for remote working and telecommuting arrangements to protect workers and keep businesses running. Remote work also has the added benefit of bringing significant cost savings. Workers can save thousands each year on commuting costs. Remote working also saves money for small businesses.
Real estate. Office space. Equipment. Supplies. Those are all significant expenses that may be reduced or eliminated as your team moves online. With the restrictions of location lifted, you are then free to recruit from a much larger talent pool for high-performing employees.
As an added benefit, employees are more likely to stay at a company with remote work options. This may reduce the costs associated with turnover and replacing an employee.
Examine Your Business Costs
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, the federal government has set up programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to assist small businesses. Under the program, businesses that have been impacted by the virus can receive loans to cover payroll costs such as wages, mortgages, health benefits, vacations and the like. While that will certainly help many businesses, it may be some time before it becomes available.
As you wait, start exercising your other options. One such option is the Employee Retention Tax Credit that was created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The refundable tax credit is 50% of $10,000 in wages, allowing employers to retain employees on their payroll.
Another major cost saving measure for small businesses: go over your bills. Cut out unnecessary subscriptions such as expensive software packages.
Finally, reconsider the costs of your employee healthcare benefits. As medical costs rise, the outbreak grows in scale, and premiums increase, some small businesses are spending hundreds of thousands in health benefits costs.
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Tom DiSilva has been providing professional human resource services for over 30 years. As the CEO of Navigate PEO, he actively partners with organizations of all sizes in the Greater New England area and across the country to help their businesses grow. He has expertise in HR and Labor Management, offering guidance and support for key areas of business such as negotiations, operations management, employee coaching, and employee benefits design.