During the Covid Crisis, small businesses are facing an unprecedented challenge. And the threats they face are coming not only from the Corona virus itself, but also from the way we are adapting. Remote work, declining sales, and social distance are creating challenges that require strong leadership and new tactics.
To make it through the coming months, effective business leaders will need to foster better communication, address worker safety, and bolster online security.
1. Communicate More
During uncertain times (and these times are uncertain!), a company needs strong leadership more than ever. One of the most effective ways to provide some certainty is through clear and honest communication. Executives should craft and broadcast weekly communications to share the company’s short-term targets, strategies, successes — and even the challenges. Post information in a highly visible area such as the company intranet, or through Slack, or a Facebook channel.
Don’t forget to add an earnest touch to your communications. Jeff Bezos’ letter to his global Amazon team is a moving example. He wrote: “There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone. My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues, to those who are already very sick, and to the real harm that will be caused by the economic fallout across our communities.”
Following Bezos’ example, it’s not necessary to “puff up” the corporate image. Clients and staff know that businesses are struggling. Many individuals would be skeptical to hear otherwise. Instead, communicate how your business is taking action. Even if the communication shares struggles such as seeking emergency funding, the message should emphasize that the company is proactive and resilient, providing a feeling of stability that will boost morale for employees, clients, and vendors.
2. Address Fears
No company wants a public relations disaster where it’s perceived as making employees work in a dangerous environment. Such damage to a firm’s reputation could cost it clients and future business.
Working remotely is the safest solution to #SlowTheSpread, when it’s possible. But for employees who have come to work, implementing stronger safety measures is crucial to the team’s peace of mind. Promote a sense of safety in the workplace with company-wide COVID-19 testing, free access to gloves and face masks, regular disinfection of all areas, distanced desks and work stations, and smaller corporate meetings (or video conferences), and all-around social distancing in the workplace.
But social distancing doesn’t mean company-wide inclusiveness isn’t possible. Empowering employees to safeguard their health (and the health of others) could lead to greater team co-hesion and new, stronger relationships between teammates. Treat this challenge as an opportunity to renew the company’s commitment to inclusiveness and make use of every team members unique talents. Get them involved in their own safety planning!
3. Beef up Security
We are now living through the “largest work from home experiment” in history – which will be a challenge for your IT security.
Workers around the globe now access company data remotely more than ever, threatening security breaches and theft of sensitive business data. The most recent threat happened to users of Zoom, the video conferencing app. Among some of the Zoom security violations includes traffic routed to Chinese servers, accounts sold on forums, hackers accessing video calls, and even posting the chats publicly.
Prioritize IT issues during this transition. Ensure company firewalls and antivirus software is up to date. And don’t forget — 80% of cybersecurity breaches come from employees. As more workers access sensitive company information while they work from home, training and compliance of security protocols is more important than ever. Give employees the tools – and the knowledge – they need to stay safe online.
A remote worker manual would be helpful to train employees on basic threats, including phishing, spyware, and password creation. Implementation of an enterprise virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt sensitive data as it transfers between remote workers and the company headquarters is also a viable solution, as long as the VPN provider guarantees regular security updates.
Adaptability Is Key
Corporate leaders and small business owners need to adapt to the sudden changes to business, finance, and employee relations to weather the storm and come out stronger when it’s over.
Contributed by Sam Bowman, guest blogger. Reach same at samlbowman92 (at) gmail.com.