5 simple ways to safeguard your business from the ‘pingdemic’
You’ve heard of the pandemic, but have you come across the latest economic issue sweeping the UK? The ‘pingdemic’ is the next disaster to befall our businesses as we struggle to get back to normal life. Whatever that means for us.
Businesses are being forced to close or run restricted services due to staff members getting ‘pinged’ on the NHS app and being told to self-isolate. SMEs are being struck hardest by this. Those same SMEs that have suffered a great deal over the last year and a half already.
But there are ways you can safeguard yourself against the growing issue. Let us guide you through them.
Five ways to safeguard against the 'Pingdemic'
1. Be understanding
According to the Financial Times, over 600,000 people have now been ‘pinged’ to isolate and industries such as healthcare, transport, retail, and manufacturing are citing that between 5 and 10% of their workforce are now in quarantine.
But we’re all in this boat together. So, the very first step is to be understanding and flexible as the inevitable situation unfolds. From then on you can plan ahead and start putting measures in place, making the most out of the lack of staff.
In a hard situation, being understanding seems a big ask, especially when SMEs have lost so much business already. But your team will thank you for being considerate and it will cement your workforce morale in the long run.
If multiple members of staff must self-isolate at the same time, then take time to check in with them, let them know that you are aware it’s something that must be done and is unavoidable. At the end of the day, isolating is the safest option, and it is slowing the spread of Covid along with vaccine uptake.
2. Have a contingency plan and adapt
Speaking of planning ahead, before it even gets to the point where you are facing mass isolation in your workplace - it's good practice to have a detailed backup plan and know how to tackle the situation before it arises.
Planning is vital and if you can, then try adapting your business even further. Call a meeting with your staff and ask them for ideas, find out what will make them feel most at ease and how they want to approach the situation. Just have a chat and come up with some potential fallback options if everyone has to isolate. Including everyone will allow your plans to run more smoothly.
Another tip is to embrace technology if you haven't already done so, set up virtual meetings rather than face-to-face ones with staff who are at home, check in with team members over messaging apps and take orders or bookings online if you can. Get a good online absence manager so you can keep track of who is isolating, who is working from home and who is present. It will make your life a whole lot easier.
3. Set up isolation funds
It is important to think about your finances and plan for a drop in income if your business was to close due to staff isolation.
If you can, try setting up an isolation fund so you have some breathing space should your shop need to shut. Saving will set you in good stead for the future anyway, and it's always great to have some ‘emergency funds set aside. It does not have to be much but knowing you have some money to fall back and keep your business afloat on will make all the difference, you’ll feel more secure.
Another option is to hire temporary staff to cover ad-hoc when your main players are isolating.
Lots of individuals are looking for work out there and would be happy to jump in to help at short notice so if you have the money to employ a few temporary workers or bank staff it could make the isolation process much smoother. It would mean you won't necessarily have to close and will take the pressure off you and your team.
4. Be aware of new rules
Although ‘Pingdemic’ is causing widespread chaos across the UK, supermarket shelves are empty, shops are running a reduced service and businesses are struggling to keep afloat, the government have come out with new exceptions to the self-isolate rule recently.
Making sure you are aware of whether your business fits the criteria for an exemption will enable you to feel more in control of the situation and assess where you can go from here.
The government has stated that the following sectors don’t have to self-isolate providing they are fully vaccinated and can produce negative covid tests. These sectors are;
- civil nuclear
- digital infrastructure
- food production and supply
- veterinary medicines
- essential chemicals
- essential transport
- medical devices
- clinical consumable supplies
- emergency services
- border control
- essential defence outputs
- local government
- manufacturing maintenance engineers
- specialist reach truck drivers
- official vets
- environmental health officers
- landfill operators
- water engineers
- laboratory staff essential to the batch release of medicines
- environment agency staff operating critical flood defence assets
So, if your business falls into one of the above categories, then your best bet is to do some more extensive research online to see if you qualify for an exemption. You can find out more here.
5. Continue Covid restrictions to keep safe
Another option you could consider is trying to limit the need for self-isolation in the first place. You could think about where your business stands on Covid restrictions and if there is scope to make your premises any safer.
Although it is now not a legal obligation to wear masks in shops, you can ask that customers still do if that's what you would prefer. You might make the decision to still ask people coming in whether they be staff or customers to wear face coverings and sanitise their hands before entry. You could keep the protective screens up or advise that certain aspects of business such as home deliveries aren't available just yet.
It's up to you how you choose to handle restrictions within your business. The key is to make sure that everything you do is in the best interests of your staff and customers.