In the wake of COVID-19 / Coronavirus, the world is grinding to a halt. Large gatherings are being banned. Conferences are shutting down. Public events (sports, concerts, rallies) are cancelled. Tourism will take a hit. It’s inevitable that “large gatherings” will be seen to include shopping and other more mundane activities like riding the bus or hitting the pub.
COVID-19 is virulent. It may not be a matter of if someone gets it as much as when someone gets it. The game now is to use social distancing to diminish the speed of the spread. If this continues to be a spread of a moderate speed, health care will not be overwhelmed. Workplaces will have absenteeism but the 4% drop in worker productivity could be spread out instead of hitting in a crippling cluster. Social distancing is the enemy of productivity: businesses need their stores full of customers, their theatres full of ticket holders, and their workplaces fully staffed. If those elements become impossible, businesses need to adapt or die.
Some strategies for using technology to cope:
- Open an online store. Shift from personal shopping and in-person visits to parcel delivery. There are many ways to make an online store affordable – even prosperous.
- If you’re running a food service, shift from restaurant dining to delivery. The delivery services can be pricey, so consider how to take online food orders and satisfy them with your own delivery person.
- If your business or your location has a special ambiance, use webcams to broadcast the visual / audio element of the same experience. Youtube offers streaming services to pipe out a continuous feed of webcam footage to the world. Failing that, shoot videos of your special place and post them – it would be like a video postcard. Some museums offer virtual tours.
- Replace in-person meetings with Zoom and Skype. They are confidential. They allow videos, audio, screen sharing and group meetings. People may need to get their “webcam game” upped, but it allows for face-to-face without being in each other’s cough-zone.
- Publish help and how-tos via Youtube or Loom. You likely know about Youtube, but Loom is awesome for anyone trying to share knowledge. In response to COVID-19, Loom just halved their rates. (I got a 1-year Pro plan today for $48USD/year.) It’s a massive tool for sharing information with clients and contacts.
- Find safe DIY projects to keep boredom to a minimum and mitigate shortages. With employee illnesses due to increase, there will be supply chain issues. While hand sanitizer is gone from our shelves, see below for a recipe for how to make some from more common ingredients that are still on the shelves.
- Evangelize telecommuting. Share the word of remote tools like Skype, Zoom, Google Docs, etc. Telecommuting offers so many benefits to our communities and bumps up our own quality of life. It may now also literally save our lives. If your employer or client resists telecommuting, talk up the virtues. If they reject telecommuting, consider not working with them.
- Allow employees to work flexible hours. Families are going to see their kids staying home from shuttered schools. If they can have the 9-3 to manage kids, see if they use other hours of the day to carry out for you. While not ideal, 6-day 6-hours/day schedule would create almost the same productivity and leave employees free to manage their non-work priorities.
- Relax employment perks. Vacations are sometimes a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ affair. I think few people are getting on planes or cruise ships this year. Some employers are banking and bumping employee vacation time to let people take time off when getaways are viable. If getaways are dashed, let your staff work and bank their time off for next year.
- Share your COVID-19 strategy. If your strategy could benefit other employers, share how it’s implemented to make it easier for them to reproduce. On that note, if any of these tips help: share them. Attribution would be welcome, but it’s more important we get a big body of knowledge out there for winning strategies on how to survive this and keep our businesses afloat.
DIY Hand Sanitizer
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Empty spray bottles (for WHO formulation)
- Empty lotion or sanitizer containers (for gel formulation)
- 1 cup of 99% isopropyl alcohol
- 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1 teaspoon of 98% glycerin
- ¼ cup, 1 tablespoon, and 1 teaspoon (or 85 milliliters) of sterile distilled or boiled cold water
Here’s the WHO article on hand-sanitizer.