woman cleaning office desk
From encouraging remote work to implementing strict sanitation practices, there are several best practices small business owners should follow during the coronavirus pandemic. — Getty Images/nortonrsx

The coronavirus has been wreaking havoc worldwide, and businesses of all sizes need to begin preparing for the impact. Here are some best practices you can follow to protect your business, employees and customers during this difficult time.

Prioritize critical operations

For small businesses, it’s no longer business as usual. Business owners should begin making preparations to ensure that critical business operations are still being met.

Come up with a plan for how key business functions will be met if important staff members are unable to work. It’s a good idea to cross-train multiple employees so that several people know how to perform key functions.

You should be prepared to make adjustments, like using alternative suppliers or putting certain operations on hold. If you operate more than one location, give those managers the authority to make operations decisions based on what’s going on in that area.

And have a plan for how you’ll continue to prioritize your customers throughout all of this.

[Read more: Coronavirus: 8 Things Your Small Business Needs to Do]

Use proper cleaning procedures in the workplace

For many small businesses, working from home just isn’t an option. If you find yourself in this situation, make sure you implement appropriate cleaning procedures at your business location.

Regularly clean all frequently touched surfaces, including doorknobs, table surfaces and handrails. Have disposable wipes on hand and provide employees with tissues and no-touch trash cans for easy disposal.

Make sure you provide hand sanitizer as well as soap and water in multiple locations. Proper hygiene and cleaning procedures will help keep everyone safer.

Many states are now recommending social distancing, so try to implement teleworking policies if possible.

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Allow sick employees to stay home

Employees that show signs of an acute respiratory illness should stay home to avoid infecting other people. According to the CDC, employees should stay home until they are free of any symptoms or fever for at least 24 hours.

Even if your employees are healthy, ask them to inform you if one of their family members is sick. You can refer to the CDC’s guidelines for appropriate risk assessment.

Implement teleworking policies if possible

Many states are now recommending social distancing, so try to implement teleworking policies if possible. It’s a good idea to cancel all work-related events and meetings. All non-essential travel should be canceled as well.

If working remotely isn’t an option, you can try staggering shifts at your workplace. This will help minimize contact among your employees.

[Read more: 7 Things to Do When Creating an Emergency Work-From-Home Policy for COVID-19]

Stay informed about what’s going on in your area

At this point, the full impact of the coronavirus in the U.S. is unknown. The virus has now infected citizens in all 50 states, and new cases emerge every day. However, the severity of the virus depends on where you’re located.

Stay in frequent contact with state and local officials who will be issuing updated guidance for your community. This will ensure that you’re informed about any new policy recommendations affecting your area.

Communicate with your employees

As you learn new information and make adjustments accordingly, keep your employees informed. Flexibility is important right now, and your employees can help you identify gaps in your plan and make improvements.

Communicating regularly with your employees will ensure that everyone is on the same page. It’ll also stop the spread of fear and misinformation.

[Read more: How to Keep Employees Calm During the Coronavirus Pandemic]

For more resources from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published March 18, 2020