Helpful links and ways for your business to prepare for COVID-19
What does COVID-19 stand for?
It is the short name given to the Novel Coronavirus Disease discovered in 2019.
As a small business, you could be significantly affected by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Is your business online? Then you can work from home and hopefully people can buy from home. But will they be buying if they’re not working? These are the questions we need to ask ourselves as small business owners. The best thing we can all do, is help prevent the spread, so that all our business thrives and people can continue to work.
This interactive Google Map shows the real-time worldwide location of current cases of COVID-19, and their status.
Some of us have conferences booked in various parts of the world. If you were clever enough to buy travel insurance, you may be able to get reimbursed if you bought within the 21 day window for the “Cancel for Any Reason” section. However, we are hearing that some insurance companies are now inserting a “COVID-19 Cause” into their policies. So read it first. If the country to which you’re traveling has a Travel Advisory, then the airline may let you reschedule your flight for a future date, even if it is a non-refundable ticket. Call the airline to get details.
Check with the organization putting on the event to see if they plan on rescheduling or cancelling. Contact them to let them know you’re concerned about traveling. The more information they can get from their attendees, the better able they will be to make a decision that benefits everyone. We are planning on cancelling our trip to YoastCon in The Netherlands next month. As of now, they have no plans to reschedule, so we will have to miss this event. As hard as that decision was, we feel it’s best for our family and our community. We didn’t want to risk bringing the virus from an infected area back to Satellite Beach. And right now, that area is a hot-bed for the virus. Schiphol Airport is still allowing Chinese airlines to land there. This information was valid at the time this blog was written. So check the websites of the airports you are traveling too, for updated info.
How to protect yourself if you HAVE to fly.
The worst case scenario is that you HAVE to fly for business. According to the CDC, you are 100 times more likely to catch the COVID-19 virus on a plane than anywhere else. National Geographic put out an article on “Where is the Healthiest Seat on an Airplane?”. But a lot depends on the flight attendants, because they move around so much. Both the proximity of a sick person, plus the length of time you spend on the plane, can affect the likihood of contracting the virus. If someone is coughing next to you or in the row in front of or behind you, ask to be moved. You’ll see many people wearing masks even though you’ve heard that it doesn’t really help if you’re not the one who is sick. What it DOES prevent, is you touching your face. That is the single best reason to wear one when you’re not infected. We touch our faces so unconsciously, a barrier helps. I always carry wipes on a plane too. I wipe down the seat belt and clasp, the arm rests, and the tray table and lock. You even have to think of the handle to the overhead bin, the fan and light switches and yes, the dreaded bathroom. I want to put on a hazmat suit when I use those, even when there is no threat of a virus.
Can your employees work from home?
If you have a brick and mortar shop or your staff absolutely HAS to be on-site, then you don’t have many options. Make sure they stay home if they are sick. Think about a compensation plan if they contract the virus and need to stay home for an extended period of time. If any employee has been out of the country, let the work from home to self-quarantine for 14 days so that they don’t risk wiping out the whole office. We have spoken to several small/medium-sized companies (60 employees or so) who are experimenting with “work from home” programs. They’re testing them now so that they’ll be ready if the time comes. If your employees don’t have to be at the office, that might not be a bad thing to experiment with. I have open dialog with my employees on how they should prepare if we are not able to work or we have a significant business slowdown.
Google has announced all G-Suite users and G Suite for Education will have free access to the advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities. Larger meetings 250 per call, live streaming up 100,000 and ability to record. Until July 1, 2020. If your interested basic starts at $6/mo. per user go to gsuite.google.com/pricing.html. I like it to talk to my customers and show them demonstrations on the screen plus I get domain based email, cloud storage, etc.
Stop shaking hands.
We just got back from a conference in Miami and I noticed that very few people were shaking hands. It’s become an unwritten rule that you either fist bump or just stand there awkwardly and wave. We don’t all need to be touching each other. It can be a hard habit to break, but it could benefit all of us.
What are some daily habits you should adopt to stay protected?
The CDC has some good information on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in your community.
I want to share with you some of the things that we do.
First, we teach our kids how to keep their hands clean. This is not as easy as it sounds when you have a 17 year old boy using weight-rooms and locker rooms at school. We gave him a pump bottle of hand sanitizer to keep in his truck so that he can use it every time he gets in or out, we assume he does, but it remains to be seen. I showed him how to properly wash his hands, and for how long (yes, I got eye-rolls). We made sure the school is cleaning the weight room and locker room nightly.
Keep a pump-bottle of hand sanitizer by the front door, so when the kids come home from school, that’s the first thing they use. Of course, the goal is for them to wash their hands eventually. We use sanitizing wipes every night, on everything, including door handles, light switches, refrigerator handles, faucet handles and even the water filter jug handle. It’s just something we’re used to.
Take a sanitizing wipe with you into the restaurant when you eat out. Wipe down your table and under the chair where you pull it in. I never touch the salt and pepper shakers, or ketchup bottles because I’m convinced that they are rarely cleaned. So I grab a napkin to pick them up. My germ-a-phobe skills have come in quite handy.
I think it goes without saying that you should never touch a door handle or hand railing with your hands. I pull down my sleeve to open a door, or touch a part of the handle on the bottom, then pull out my hand sanitizer. These might seem a bit extreme, but we need to keep from getting infected for the next year until the vaccine is available.
Ever think about the gas pump? Use a paper towel or wipe to hold on to it. Same goes for the credit card machine. I always use a knuckle or wipe it off first.
Good luck to all of you!
List of helpful COVID-19 links from this article
Interactive Google Map of COVID-19
CDC COVID-19 Preventative Tips
Travel Insurance from local Travel Agent Randy Mauldin
COVID-19 Travel Advisories
National Geographic Article on “Where is the Healthiest Seat on an Airplane?”