COVID-19 Business Recovery

15.04.20 09:19 PM

It may have seemed longer, but Alberta has only been under emergency public health order CMOH 07-2020 since March 27, three weeks ago.  Although businesses can start applying for Federal assistance, now is also the time for smart businesses to start planning for recovery. Although many of my clients are deemed essential services, everyone is being impacted by the financial impacts of COVID-19.  Often seriously.

The first question is timing – when will business be returning to normal? 

Let’s first be clear and honest:  We will not be going back to normal;

we will be moving forward to a new normal.

Our provincial health authorities are expecting the COVID-19 to peak in May and take many weeks more to get it under control.  But with unemployment soon roaring past 9% and the economy shrinking by more than 9%, the pressures are also on to find a way to restart our economy. 

A reasonable assumption is that Alberta will consider a phased re-opening with onerous health restrictions that may be eased over time.  
This process may start as early as June and as late as August.  Some near-essential businesses may open a bit earlier.

This delay is going to drain a business’ rainy-day money, exhaust federal subsidies and run up federal emergency loans. 
When businesses restart, most will need a big injection of revenue fast.

Even after the government tells us its OK to start up again, COVID-19 may be hanging around for the next 2 years or more:
    • There will be no vaccine likely for another year, if it is possible to produce one
    • Resurgences will continue until a vaccine is widely available or 70-80% of people have had Covid-19
    • For 70-80% of Albertans to get Covid-19 naturally at 10,000 case/month, it would take 30 years
    • Up to 10% of people contracting the disease will die, unless a better treatment is found
    • The disease is contagious even before symptoms appear, and may mutate

These are frightening new realities.  In addition to getting your staff and customers back, businesses will need to deal with the new fear factor.   Businesses will need to keep staff and customers safe from contracting COVID-19 and they will need to prove it. Otherwise, they aren’t coming back! 

The new disaster scenario, in addition to fires, floods and earthquakes is being feared as a business
where people can catch COVID-19. How will your business deal with the fear factor?

One critical factor will be to keep your staff and customers confident that your business is safe.  Before COVID-19, we took this for granted.  
We can’t anymore.  The following information is sourced from a modified workplace safety framework developed by Dr. Nellie Brown of Cornell University.

Blueneck's 5 strategies for dealing with COVID-19:
Some businesses may be able to re-tool and participate in the opportunities the first two offer:  Elimination of COVID-19 and producing Medical Interventions.  
I have clients who are doing just that through the government initiatives to source products from Canadian suppliers.    

 However, most if not all other businesses can and should do some combination of the other three strategies:
    • Re-engineering your business to reduce physical contact
    • Creating new Policy Controls to ensure the site is clean and safe from the virus
    • Using Personal Protective Equipment properly

So, when planning your business’ restart, now is the time to ask yourself:

    • Do I know how best to re-engineer my business to create safety for employees and customers?
    • How do I document, implement and enforce procedures to keep the virus out of my business? 
    • What new PPE do I need and how do I handle it differently to control the spread of the virus?
Blueneck offers a range of assistance from a little advice all the way to full implementations.  Be also prepared for new workplace rules which may be coming down from Occupational Health and Safety as well as Alberta Health!  However, if you plan the above well, you will be ahead of the game.  More importantly, you will be ahead of your competition in getting back your staff, getting back your customers and keeping the doors open when it counts!

Pete Baran is the Chief Business Mechanic at Blueneck Consulting Inc.   
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