Several months into 2020, the world was abruptly changed by a virus, the effects of which will continue to affect humanity into the foreseeable future. Few business owners were financially or emotionally prepared for sudden, long-term closure under the threat of COVID-19. Of course, that was just the beginning: As life under quarantine continues, staying afloat is becoming increasingly complex for business owners.
Following on the heels of social distancing mandates nationwide, America’s racial tensions boiled over in the late spring. The May 25 murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis sparked protests nationwide, some of which spawned rioting and looting. In response, small business owners across the nation were once again forced to make crucial safety decisions on the fly.
As America’s politically-charged protests continued into June, storefronts became an unfortunate target for rioters. Throughout Seattle’s Chinatown district, for example, many retail shop windows were broken and/or covered with graffiti. In response, business owners boarded up their windows and, in some cases, removed merchandise deemed vulnerable to theft.
Across the country, countless storefronts remain boarded and shuttered, and many are likely to close permanently. Yet on the other end of the spectrum, companies of all sizes are poised to reopen as lockdown rules (whether at a local or state level) are gradually relaxed. Unfortunately, in these times of political and social unrest, the reopening process is more complex than meets the eye. Here’s how to protect yourself and your business’ bottom line while also accounting for the unpredictability of these turbulent times.
Reopening Your Business: What’s at Stake?
For business owners looking to successfully navigate the reopening process, certain concepts should be prioritized. To begin with, it’s in your best interest to mitigate any challenges that stand on your way, or that prevent you from cultivating a safe work environment. Additionally, your post-COVID reopening business plan should have plenty of wiggle room. As we have learned the hard way, the world can change in an instant, leaving our livelihoods (and career aspirations) in limbo.
No matter the political climate or underlying social issues, reopening is crucial for every business that wants to stay afloat, and thrive, in these uncertain times. The sad truth is that the $376 billion CARES Act, which provided grant opportunities for small business owners affected by COVID-19, isn’t substantial enough to make a lasting economic impact. In fact, Changing America reports that more than 100,000 small businesses have closed their doors permanently since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Yet all is not lost for the millions of small businesses trying to stay afloat in a sea of uncertainty. To ensure economic survival in the shadow of civil unrest and a deadly pandemic, adaptability is key. You may need to completely upend your business model, perhaps altering your company’s fundamental structure to incorporate remote work opportunities, for example.
Managing a Productive Remote Workforce
Of course, not every type of business is conducive to a remote workforce. The arcade and movie theatre experiences, for instance, can’t be replicated via digital channels. Maid services and oil changes must be performed in person. But in many industries, remote work provides a viable option for ensuring employee health while your company continues to operate as usual.
If it’s your first time managing remote employees, you may experience a slight learning curve that’s refreshingly easy to overcome. Just remember to embrace the differences in managerial styles, rather than longing for what’s familiar. You won’t be able to build work relationships in person, but engaging in an online workplace relationship can be just as productive and fulfilling.
But the biggest reward that comes from your company’s newfound reliance on remote workers is that you’re making a real difference on a public health scale. As COVID-19 continues to spread, providing remote work opportunities to every possible employee sets you apart as a conscientious employer and can boost your company’s reputation.
The Security of Your Business in an Uncertain Future
That’s because, when it comes down to it, the economic benefits of reopening shouldn’t undermine public safety concerns. Instead, identify ways in which business security and public health intersect. What’s more, you must be willing to put in the hard work and hours that come with the complete alteration of your business model.
Keeping your business secure is a multifaceted endeavor. Throughout the process, you must adhere to relevant local health mandates, while simultaneously promoting a safe and healthy work environment, on top of bringing in and maintaining a steady revenue.
The task can feel daunting, even to the most seasoned professional, but effectively securing your commercial business may be easier than meets the eye. For starters, you can help protect your property from looters by installing a surveillance system and high-tech window locks. Consider having an employee on-site at all hours in case of emergency, and remember that masks are never optional when conducting business in our new, post-COVID world.
Until a viable COVID-19 vaccine is discovered, remote workers are likely to become the new norm in the world of business operations. And that’s just the beginning when it comes to navigating the modern business landscape, where change is constant and our livelihoods are at stake. If you plan to reopen your business during a time of social unrest, ensure that public health is at the forefront of your mind. Adapt your business model as necessary, and be ready for anything.