To say the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge for Australian businesses is an understatement, with lockdowns affecting every sector. For some industries, the pandemic has been a death knell for many businesses, while others have been forced to change how they operate to take account of these unprecedented circumstances.
Check the rules
The first and most important act for businesses is to make sure they thoroughly understand the rules where they are, so they comply with all mandated restrictions, but also so they do not unnecessarily restrict their businesses. Non-essential shops in Melbourne can currently only open on a click-and-collect basis, but in regional Victoria, they can open with restrictions on the numbers of customers on the premises. These differences can be found across all industries, so check the rules to understand the implications for your business.
While some industries may be able to keep their employees working as normal, for many others, a lockdown means change. If lockdown means a temporary closure of the business, you will need to decide the implications for the staff and whether it is possible to keep them on the payroll while the lockdown continues.
Other businesses may be able to adapt their work to comply with the restrictions. For example, restaurants may be able to move to a take-away basis to continue to operate and minimise the number of employees not working. With the job changing, it is important to keep on top of ensuring your employees fully understand their new roles.
The pandemic has seen a rise in the number of employees working from home. If this is how your business is able to keep operating, you will need to make sure your employees have the necessary equipment and space to work effectively. The vast majority of employees are keen to make a success of working from home and will continue to produce their best work. However, in some cases, you may need to monitor work closely to ensure that even from home, your employees are working their contracted hours. Away from the work premises, you may also need to be more aware of possible employee alcohol or substance abuse. Matrix Diagnostics is a company that offers laboratory drug testing from samples of urine, hair or oral fluids with rapid turnaround, so businesses can quickly find out if drugs or alcohol are a problem for their employees.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been known that good hygiene methods are key to reducing the spread of the disease. If staff or customers are continuing to be on your premises, you will need to make sure you can maintain the highest standards with good supplies of hand sanitiser, regular opportunities for hand washing and monitoring the wearing of masks and social distancing.
While the pandemic will continue to challenge businesses across Australia, by keeping on top of the rules, staff management and hygiene, you may be able to reduce the impact on your business.