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3 Ways to Keep Workplace Morale Up During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Don't panic. Plan and prepare.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Small business owners are used to wearing an assortment of hats. Some hats we’re fairly ready to put on and follow standard procedure, like writing a business plan or incorporating a startup. Other hats are a little bit more complicated.

The increase of coronavirus cases has impacted businesses around the world. As a small business owner, I’m fairly well-versed in creating disaster recovery plans. I often find that what thrives the most during times of chaos is more chaos. Employees may feel compelled to panic if they notice an uptick in #coronavirus trending hashtags on Twitter or see cleaning supplies, like paper towels, running low in the break room. A new office grapevine starts to grow throughout the workplace: one based largely on stressful speculation.

Don’t panic. Instead, focus on ways you and your team members can plan and prepare.

Create a crisis-management plan.

Let’s pretend that the coronavirus isn’t happening for a moment. Does your small business have a plan of action in case there’s an emergency? If you do, you may want to revisit this plan and ensure everything is crisis-management friendly.

If you don’t have a plan, it’s not too late to create one. Here are a few items your communication plan should be able to readily address.

  • Communication. Many companies have staff members in locations in and out of the United States, employed on a full-time and part-time basis. If something happens, how will you get in touch with the team members? Do you have more than one way to reach team members? Have your employees provided you with their emergency contact information? Is it possible you can use a program that enables for emergency alerts via mobile devices?
  • Funds. There should be a disaster fund established in the event the business needs to close temporarily and is unable to pay employees on the payroll. Generally, this fund for small businesses amounts to three months’ worth of operating expenses.
  • Remote work options. Many companies are allowing their teams to work remotely so they are still able to meet customer needs. Fine tune the details for how your staff may be able to work remotely. Some employees may simply need a computer and a WiFi connection while others require more materials. What kind of equipment will they need? What tools should you provide them?

Establishing this kind of plan may take a little extra time to focus on completing, but will go a long way in providing employees, and yourself, with peace of mind that you’ll be able to get back on your feet.

Empower employees to practice good hygiene habits.

Office buildings are shared spaces. Many individuals are guilty of coughing without covering their mouth during meetings or sharing equipment, like tablets, together without wiping down surfaces everyone has touched first.

Now more than ever is the time to practice good hygiene. This includes, but isn’t limited to, the following habits.

  • Washing hands regularly with soap and water.
  • Wiping down surfaces, including keyboards, phones, and countertops, with a disinfectant wipe.
  • Using hand sanitizer.
  • Spraying rooms with disinfectant spray.
  • Covering your mouth when you cough.

Additionally, make sure your team members understand the importance of taking care of their physical health. Emphasize the importance of eating healthy, exercising, and getting a good night’s sleep. (I forwarded my team a terrific article about the importance of sleep, in light of Daylight Saving Time and the hour lost this past weekend.)

Keep working.

Keep on keeping on — as much as possible. It may seem difficult to stay focused on your work when you feel anxious or fearful of what may happen next. However, you can take comfort in knowing the work you’re doing is still there and still needs to be addressed.

You play a vital role in completing these tasks alongside your teammates. Focus on the task at hand and how you can work hard to get it done. If you’ve caught up enough with your workload, you can offer to help out others. ‘How can I help you?’ is a simple question that shows that you’ve got your team’s back and are ready and able to get the job done together.

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