Coronavirus (COVID-19): Moving Operations Online
In order to help slow the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), communities and organizations across the nation are doing what they can to minimize exposure. Large events have been cancelled or postponed, employees are being encouraged to work from home, if able, and people are only going out in public if absolutely necessary.
With these prevention practices in place, continuing operations as usual becomes a challenge. Fortunately, technology can help you during this time.
Moving traditional business operations online allows your business or organization to continue being productive and participating with your community, while reducing the exposure to germs for you, your employees and your visitors.
Ways to Move Operations Online
Build out your online presence.
Your business or organization can use its website and social media channels to communicate key messages and keep your customers informed in a timely manner. Be sure to share any changes to your operating hours or status with your followers. You can also share information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization and your local health department to help your community take the best preventative measures.
If you run a small business, customers who would normally come in through your door can still support you by way of online sales. If you don’t already have an online store established for your business, there are a variety of e-commerce store builders available online that you can use. Some website hosts may offer free trials, but investing in a monthly subscription could be worth it.
Provide a way to make financial contributions online.
With many church gatherings and nonprofit events being cancelled, collecting funds and donations may be a challenge for your organization during this time. If your organization’s website allows people to make financial contributions, be sure to promote online giving on your website’s home page, on your social media channels and in e-newsletters. If you do not already have a donation system in place, there are several apps available that you can implement for online or mobile giving. Be sure to explain where and how people can donate using digital communication channels, such as by email or on social media.
For restaurants and other small businesses, gift cards are a way customers can still buy-in, even if they plan to use them at a later date. If possible, have gift cards available to purchase through your website so customers can buy them from home.
Encourage participation from home through streaming.
Religious organizations can host services using online methods so members can still participate from home. While some congregations regularly record and post services online, Facebook Live, Twitch and YouTube are free alternatives you can use if you do not have a streaming or recording system already in place. GuideOne customers are also encouraged to use our ChurchHub mobile app to stay connected with members. You will need an internet connection, such as Wi-Fi or a mobile data plan, to use these platforms. Read our Safety Resource about livestreaming services for more information.
Nonprofits, educational institutions and small businesses can also use streaming platforms to interact with their communities during this time of social distancing. Posting a video update on a social media platform can help comfort your followers. It is important to maintain relationships through personal communication during this uncertain time.
Use conference or video calls instead of in-person meetings.
If your business or organization doesn’t already have a service capable of this, there are free videoconferencing apps you may want to consider. Virtual meetings are a great alternative to in-person meetings, as they still facilitate collaboration and discussion. When doing a conference call or video call with more than two people, it may be helpful to establish an order for sharing feedback so that people aren’t talking at the same time, which can cause audio challenges. This also ensures that everyone has the opportunity to share what they’re thinking.
Communicate often when working remotely.
If your business or organization decides to work remotely, it’s important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your employees. There may be a period of adjustment for some employees, so a group chat could help your team members feel connected despite the physical distance, and can keep everyone on the same page. Texting each other throughout the day and video chatting regularly can also maintain relationships. In addition, be sure to talk about what’s working and not working for each team member, and adjust your plan as needed.
For educational institutions transitioning to online or distance learning, it’s important to set clear communication expectations. Using a school’s approved online learning platform, teachers can set virtual office hours so parents and students know when they can ask questions and receive instructions. This method ensures that communication is secure and helps keep everyone on the same page.
© 2020 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.