Lockdown Hints & Tips:
When lockdown was first announced in March 2020, many SME’s, Sole traders and Partnerships were concerned that this could mean the end for their business.
Business’s were suddenly faced with restrictions on opening hours (if they were fortunate enough to be open at all), reduced capacity, furloughed staff, curfews and travel restrictions to name just a few.
As a small business, we could instantly empathise with some of the very real fears our clients were facing and lost no time in looking into solutions for the two or the more immediate concerns.
1) Working Remotely – Fortunately our clients all use our cloud accounting systems so are in effect fully paperless and remote on the bookkeeping / accounting side, but suddenly they were faced with staff previously office based, working from home.
In theory, with modern technology, most office roles should easily convert to a remote role but this can require some careful planning and support.
Studies show that working from home can both enhance and reduce productivity mainly depending on the nature of the task. Boring/repetitive/mundane tasks are completed more productively in a structured environment and more creative tasks tends to be executed more successfully in a less structured environment.
Productivity and levels of distraction also vary from person to person, in fact one of my staff at a previous company was adamant that she could not work from home as she is far too easily distracted by domestic tasks, whereas in the office she was a virtual machine. I myself am the exact opposite and have worked fully remotely for many years and find my productivity greatly heightened with the freedom to work as, when and where I choose.
So to the first challenge of remote working we offer the following:
a) Create a work environment – Limit distractions, manage noise levels, designate a specific work space, create house rules, get dressed.
b) Work strategically – When office based there are natural breaks in the day, lunch, meetings etc so encourage your team to plan their day with frequent breaks and a clear strategy, maybe a simple time management schedule with goals to help those who are less easily self motivated.
c) Identify those who are less familiar with remote working or self motivation and where possible buddy them up with someone more dynamic and proactive.
d) Without micro-managing, support team members (especially those with less creative roles) by introducing deadlines, offering more frequent opportunities to ‘catch up’ on longer term projects and tasks, encouraging regular updates to other team members and line managers.
e) Communicate – Use Zoom, Slack, Hangout and other video / chat tools to keep in regular contact with colleagues, team members, staff, clients, customers.
a) WFH / Remotely is a perk – not true it is a business model.
b) Working from home kills corporate culture – if the culture is already defined and maintained through communication, then this is not true.
c) Employees should be online at all times so everyone can see they are working – I have seen this particular myth turn motivated hard working individuals into clock watchers!! If you need a break, take one! Genuine employees need never worry that any time away from their post should imply slacking.
d) Remote working is a security risk – Companies have ways to secure their work remotely. Businesses commonly use technologies like virtual private network (VPN) access to maintain remote security.
2) Finances & Cash Flow – Many businesses first concern was how would they cope financially with turnover reducing or temporarily disappearing all together.
a) Look into the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to furlough employees.
b) Apply for funding under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
c) Apply for the Coronavirus Bounce Back Loan Scheme, up to £50k, 1-6 years, first year interest free, 100% Government guarantee.
d) Talk to Suppliers, landlords, banks about payment plans and reduced payments.
e) Update your Cashflow forecast regularly
f) Revisit variable costs / expenses
g) Check business interruption insurance
h) Check out our ‘Cashflow’ Blog by Kim Deere
a) The bank will add more interest if I ask to reduce my payments or take a payment holiday – Many banks and building societies are giving very favourable rates and solutions to cash flow issues during this time, the key is to raise it with your bank early, and have a plan.
b) My business won’t be eligible for Government assistance because I made a profit last year – This is not true, some of the assistance is geared towards profitable businesses suffering from lockdown restrictions.
c) Our insurance will not pay out because everyone will be claiming – Each policy is different and many will cover your business for this situation so check with your Broker.
d) Landlords and suppliers won’t agree reduced payments because they will have the same request from everyone – Everyone is in the same boat this is true, but a request backed up with a viable payment plan is unlikely to be rejected. Landlords are also under the following government imposed rules…. ”UK commercial and residential tenants who miss rent payments due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic are to be protected from eviction for at least three months.”
Hopefully our experiences will help you through the latest lockdown rules and increased restrictions, we are always around to answer any questions you may have……
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