As we near our second full week of social distancing my company has remained busy. We take nothing for granted, however. We happen to have an offer that is in need when the economy is in flux and we happen to have clients who are able to maintain their activities and investments during this period of collective time-out. We realize that this is not the case for everyone. It is precisely for this reason that we feel that our company must continue our activities, continue spending, and continue supporting our local economy - because we can.
This is not the time for short term thinking.
I heard a financial analyst the other day advising companies to cut back proactively, to lay off staff, delay investment and retain liquidity. I beg to differ. The message to our staff has been the opposite. If we want our clients to maintain their projects with us and to continue to invest in their business, we must do likewise. In business like in life, what goes around comes around. I am a big fan of pay-it-forward. If your business can afford to ride this temporary crisis out, then it should. Attitude will maintain its staff, even if things start to slow down. Why? Because it can. Because it is the right thing to do. And because when the crisis is over, we'll be up and running right away with a group motivated to get back to business as usual. This is not the time for short term thinking.
So what can we be doing, we the companies, entrepreneurs and business people who are still active and able to contribute? Here are a few suggestions:
- Order out, often: it's not because you work from home that you are obliged to eat ham and cheese every day. The hardest hit out of this situation are small commercial businesses like restaurants. Your daily lunch order may help them pay the rent and stay in business. I have not brought a lunch from home since this started and I will gladly order for anyone in my team.
- Reward good work with gift certificates. Keeping your team motivated in times of social distancing requires a little effort. Why not put in place a recognition program related to stay-at-home KPI's and reward them with gift certificates from local businesses that are closed temporarily? Good for your team's moral and good for the economy!
- Pay your suppliers and freelance workers early for a change. Again, independent contractors are currently the most susceptible demographic. We have cut cheques with greater frequency since the outbreak, because our partners are truly partners and they need our support.
- Office empty? Great time for maintenance! We have needed to paint the office for quite some time. The space is empty and no one is here to complain about the fumes. How about spring cleaning? Instead of laying off your cleaning crew, why not bring them in for a couple of days to do a deep cleanse of those 5-year-old dust bunnies that have accumulated behind the filing cabinet…
- Time to upgrade! Again, the office is empty so it is an ideal time to invest in anything from new chairs, desks, monitors or anything else that may be due for a refresh. I'm sure that our local distributors and installers have lots of time to give you special attention during this slow period. They may also have inventory they are willing to discount to get it out the door.
These are unusual times of instability. We can all do our part. That means keeping our distance and respecting our regional and national health authorities. It does not mean we have to put the brakes on our productive economy. Let's find creative ways to help out those businesses that are in need today. Who knows what tomorrow holds - we may benefit from someone else's creative idea when our turn comes.
Stay healthy. Keep spending. See you on the other side!