Clearly as COVID-19 continues to spread the economy will need to be open for business while also living with the virus. Ideally we can find a balance where we are open for business and also managing the spread of infection.
At Rosenberg Chesnov we think the key to opening and staying open is to heed the advice of experts, treat the Corona Virus as a serious threat, and manage business activities accordingly.
The good news is that the experience in Europe and so far New York shows that with some extra attention and caution, including social distancing and face coverings, we can reopen most businesses. You should create a policy for your business and educate your employees on the CDC guidelines. Even if employees already know the information the more seriously you the leadership takes these efforts the more likely they will follow the rules as well.
To make opening easier we have created a policy template for you to use and build off of as well as gathered some flyers from the CDC. These are completely free, just sign up below.
How to successfully manage the reopening process
There is an expectation that we will return to “normal,” or otherwise said, “the way things were before.” In fact it will take a while for a normal to develop and the process is unlikely to be linear. Most jurisdictions are looking at a phased approach to opening, but we may well see progression to one phase, then regression then a new definition of what the next phase should be.
New York City, for example, began phasing in restaurants until the experiences in Florida and Texas caused Cuomo to put off the opening.
Opening the economy and your business is more akin to a dimmer switch than a light switch… we’ll dial it up then dial it down as we need to. “Normal” is a long way off.
Think of opening the economy as a dimmer switch rather than a light switch. The guidelines below are based on information from the CDC and the White House (supplied back in April).
Think of this as your own bubble
The NBA, NHL, and MLB are all very publicly thinking about and or implementing some form of bubble strategy. They are isolating players and testing rigorously to ensure that they are not spreading the virus among themselves.
In a way, we have all created our own bubbles by huddling through the pandemic with family and many of us have extended that bubble to include some friends. Expanding on this concept may be a good way to keep business going while also managing virus exposure.
To create your bubble consider these guidelines
These phased guidelines are based on some initial guidance from the federal government and we think there is some logic in this.
In all phases
- Develop company policies for social distancing, cleaning, and travel.
- Consider how you will welcome customers and vendors into your office.
- Monitor your workforce and encourage self-monitoring for symptoms.
- Develop policies for contact tracing following positive COVID-19 test.
- Clarify your policies and explain them to your employees.
In phase one of reopening
- Encourage remote work
- Return to work in phases
- Close common areas or enforce strict protocols that promote distancing.
- Create separation at work so maintain social distancing.
- Minimize nonessential travel
- Create special accommodations for members of vulnerable populations
In phase two of reopening
- Continue to encourage remote work.
- Close common areas or enforce more moderate protocols to promote distancing.
- Nonessential travel can resume.
- Continue to make special accommodations for members of vulnerable populations.
In phase three of reopening
In theory all work can resume as normal, we think this step is a long way off and we recommend that you consider encouraging remote work and practicing social distancing for the foreseeable future.
How to manage your business through reopening
As stated above this is likely to be a long term, roller-coaster type of an opening. A few weeks ago we saw decreasing cases of COVID-19 not we see increasing cases. Your planning, therefore, will need to consider multiple scenarios and include the flexibility to keep your business open as conditions change.
If more cases pop up or you start to have employees who are infected you will need to dial down your reopening, moving from phase three back to phase 2 or phase 1.
You will have to manage your own bubble.
As you consider next steps, here are a few critical items to keep in mind.
Plan cash carefully to stay open for business
- If you can open but are not necessarily profitable, does it make sense to open anyway? In most cases, the answer is yes, but we explain this in more detail in this post on opening your business.
- Consider the Payment Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs. These did run out of money but both are now available. The PPP program originally expired on June 30, but Congress extended it until August 8, 2020. Apply for the PPP program through your bank, apply for the EIDL here.
- Take advantage of programs offered by vendors, suppliers, and/or state and local governments.
- Cash flow planning is critical during the caused by COVID-19 crisis. So, develop a plan for a phased reopening and understand how your business could be impacted under multiple scenarios. Check out our six things all businesses must do now webinar. Make sure your plan sizes your business for your best estimate of a new normal.
Watch the guidance from your state and local governments as you reopen
- The plan, timelines and regulations will look different depending on your location. The process will be similar, and the phases above are worth keeping in mind, but the timing and regulations will change.
- Consider these points:
- A phased reopening may make sense, especially for a geographically dispersed company.
- We are now used to working remotely and the new workplace will be more mobile and flexible than it was prior to COVID-19 – use this to your advantage.
- Accommodating vulnerable people will be especially important – they are much more susceptible.
- Review HR policies and employee engagement strategies to accommodate the needs of the company, the population at large, and your customers.
- Adapt your recruitment strategies to be more virtual and proactive
How we can help
While both COVID-19 and its economic impact will dominate the conversation for some time. But it is critical to look forward and plan for the future. We can work with you to create scenario strategies, annual plans, quarterly plans and align your business to the future.
Our CFO services are designed to help you turn accounting and financial hassle into usable information to plan for the future.
If you are a client and would like to book a consultation, just click here.
If you aren’t a client, why not? We can take care of your accounting, bookkeeping, and CFO needs turning your accounting from an annoyance into an asset. Interested? Click here for a no-obligation consultation.