By James Allum, VP at global B2B payments platform Payoneer


During a global health crisis, the wellbeing of employees and their families must be the top priority for businesses. Organisations across the world are encouraging flexible working, pausing all international travel and suggesting virtual meetings rather than face-to-face.

And, as a consequence of the spread of coronavirus across the world, the global economy is in a state of flux. Entire industries are shifting to remote working arrangements and businesses are attempting to carry out vital processes across a rapidly changing environment.

The end date for this crisis is impossible to predict. So what practical measures can businesses take to mitigate the impact?

Preparation

Businesses all around the globe are having to consider what to do if the situation escalates, and lasts for weeks to come as it’s certain to do. Can the business handle an extended work from home period? There is an abundance of hardware and software solutions available to enable remote working, and these should be considered as a priority. Manufacturers should consider how they will adjust their business in response to lower worker turnouts. For countries who have not yet felt significant effects from the coronavirus epidemic, now is the time to ensure business continuity plans are in place, and that they are prepared for the long term.

Supporting Your Workforce

During a difficult period in the wider world, and as routines are disrupted, it’s important for employers to make health and wellbeing a top priority. By having flexible policies in place for employees, particularly those with small children or elderly relatives, the work environment becomes supportive and inclusive. Businesses must remember that this is not a standard work-from-home environment. Many employees are in the dual role of worker and caregiver, and an understanding and responsive management style is critical to avoiding employee burnout. This approach should be replicated in outward communications to customers, highlighting a culture that is understanding, professional and agile.

In such unprecedented times, it’s also important for businesses to be aware of incentives on offer from the government. Authorities around the world are providing grants to small businesses to ease the financial burden of uncertainty.

Adapt

By thinking outside of the box, businesses can strengthen relationships with customers and build tighter bonds with suppliers and partners. For example, in the eCommerce world, we have seen Amazon preventing price increases on necessary medical supplies, to protect consumers. There are also examples of marketplaces easing policies to protect sellers in the case of delivery delays, and some have waived sellers’ refund fees to mitigate revenue losses at a time of increased consumer uncertainty.

Payoneer has worked with SMBs to help them identify new infrastructure partners and routes to market with their product or service.

As we navigate the uncertain waters of this world health epidemic, we face a stark reminder of the importance of planning ahead. Now is the time to ensure business continuity processes are in place, and that we are prepared for the next unpredictable event.

Diversify

To protect against particular markets or products struggling in a time of crisis, businesses can look to diversify risk by branching out into new markets and expanding their offerings. This applies to both the demand and the supply side of a business, and can help to spread the impact of potential losses. Certain new products might hold the key for driving revenue during a difficult time, or making changes to partners in the supple chain could ensure that stability is maintained for customers.

These are undoubtedly unprecedented times but it’s always those who are prepared who will prosper. Below are the key questions that decision makers need to be focused on if they are to reduce the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on their business:

  1. Preparation – are you ready for the current situation to last weeks or months? If not, what can be actioned?
  2. Support – from the wellbeing of employees, to customer service and outward communications, how can you ensure you maintain a culture of understanding?
  3. Adapt – what can you do to preserve relationships with customers and suppliers?Diversify – can you identify an alternative product, solution or territory that would provide respite from the challenging economic climate?