COVID-19 and your business
If your business isn’t affected this time it will be some day thanks to some other shock
There’s an economically disruptive pandemic on our doorsteps. Some of you are worried for your family, your employees, your business’s survival. Some of you aren’t worried. Let’s sharpen our disaster processes now anyway because they will protect us this year and in future shocks to come.
Since California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a State of Emergency on March 4, our state agencies have been mobilizing. There are currently no reported cases of community transmission in the North Coast. But in my view the COVID-19 community transmission rate is probably growing exponentially — and invisibly — in our region right now. This is likely not deadly if you’re younger and healthier. But we all have someone in our circle of care who is vulnerable.
If you haven’t looked up the concept of “flattening the curve” and “social distancing,” do it now to understand why preparing and protecting each other from infection benefits everyone during this epidemic. I assume by now you’re making sure everyone on your team is washing hands and avoiding face touching. Are you scheduling regular sanitizing cleanups at the workplace? Letting people know to look out for a moderate to high fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath? Looking at planned travel and meetings to see what can be postponed or done virtually? Rescheduling your big public events?
On Tuesday I attended my last public event for a while; featuring lots of COVID-elbow-hellos. NDN Collective coleader PennElys Droz is an Anishinaabe/Wyandot woman who grew up in the Trinidad Rancheria and came to speak to a group about her hard, creative work to help create healthy economies. Here are some thoughts for business owners about how to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic organized according to NDN Collective’s principles of
Regenerative Indigenous Communities.
Plan for chaos
If your business isn’t affected this time it will be some day thanks to some other shock. So involve your employees to create a playbook of ifthen scenarios. If you have a trade-dependent business and any part of your supply chain depends on COVID-quarantined areas, your business is already disrupted. If your business model depends on delivering services in person especially retail or lodging businesses with fixed brick and mortar operating costs — you are probably well beyond disrupted and into really worried.
Do daily scans: are your supply sources still reliable; what are the latest infection rates; the latest recommendations for safe workplaces during this epidemic; what new help is being announced. The California Department of Public Health provides daily updates on its COVID-19 web page. Low-interest Economic Injury Disaster loans from the Small Business
Administration are in the works but not open for applications yet. The federal government may also announce tax relief for affected industries— especially travel and tourism.
What are you going to do if you can’t open for business for days or weeks? Who will step in if your key decision makers need to self-quarantine?
If your business can handle remote working, establish norms like when and how to have virtual meetings, expected response times for emails or phone calls, how to track work start and end times. Have you had all employees test their remote work processes and tools in advance?
Identify what you can put off until after the crisis: for example employers statewide directly affected by COVID-19 can now request up to a 60day extension to file their state payroll reports and deposit payroll taxes without penalty or interest.
And don’t forget: preparing for the recovery is as im
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