There’s a lot of uncertainty when it comes to dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, especially for contractors and small businesses in industries like construction and home and building maintenance. It’s important for any business, especially companies whose work involves going into people’s homes and places of business, to act when an unpredictable pandemic like coronavirus suddenly emerges. While many businesses have been forced to halt operations indefinitely, some essential businesses, which in many states includes construction and home maintenance, are still operating. To better protect yourself, your employees, and your clients, you consider the following tips.

Take your health seriously

During times like this, no potential signs of the virus should be allowed on the jobsite. If anyone is displaying acute respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, fever or shortness of breath), they pose a potential virus transmission risk. No one should return to work until their temperature is lower than 100.4° F/37.8° C for at least 24 hours and they feel well enough to do their jobs effectively.

If you run a business with more than one employee, consider reviewing your sick-leave policies to be  flexible enough to accommodate the current environment. It might not be your employee, but their family member that ends up sick. Be prepared for people to miss work to care for a sick child or relative. Finally, waive any requirements for notes from healthcare professionals to validate illness. Physicians’ offices and medical facilities are extremely busy and those requests are not a priority.

Be proactive with prevention

Viruses and bacteria can linger almost anywhere for hours, so regularly wipe down cell phones, workstations, handles, doorknobs, truck interiors, and tools with a disinfectant. Everyone should wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or longer at least 3-4 times throughout the day, and avoid touching their faces. If possible, purchase 60-95 percent alcohol-based hand sanitizer and apply it in addition to regular handwashing.

Focus on social distancing (for now)

With many businesses temporarily closed and a lot of people working from home, there may be opportunities to take on projects in vacant office spaces or businesses. Pivoting to those types of projects, protects yourself, your family, your business and the general public. If you’re an essential worker coming into contact with other people, be sure to follow guidelines about maintaining six feet of distance.

Transition to paperless processes

Another way to practice social distancing during this time is to work towards going paperless and automating business processes that were previously handled manually. Upgrade the tools you use to conduct everyday business, such as mobile invoicing and estimating. If you haven’t yet, now’s the time to add an easy online option for payments. This reduces the amount of person-to-person contact and enforces social distancing protocols by eliminating the need to collect checks in person or visit a crowded bank.

By moving more functions online, you show your clients that you’re adapting to the current environment, as well as creating efficiencies that are effective now and in the future.

Stay informed about the news of the day

With COVID-19 making headlines every morning and information changing hourly, it’s important to have the most up-to-date information. Staying on top of breaking developments will help you make better-informed decisions regarding your day-to-day operations, helping you prepare for the impacts of new safety measures and restrictions. By staying informed on, and following, the latest recommendations from healthcare professionals and government officials, you’re demonstrating that you’re  taking the situation seriously. This gives your clients peace of mind about working with you.

Be upfront with clients about the latest policies

Many contractors and small businesses will likely have to pause their work at some point because of safety recommendations. If that happens to you, it’s vital that you communicate quickly and clearly with your clients about:

    • Why projects have to be delayed,
    • An updated timeline if at all possible, and
    • What clients can expect moving forward.

Regularly calling clients with updates goes a long way in maintaining that relationship in the long-term.

Look at the bigger picture

It’s the hallmark of a great business owner to keep things in perspective and not allow the quick tempo of the current situation to affect your company’s priorities. Along with listening to and being there for clients and employees, now’s the time to be a source of steady guidance.

The current obstacles are temporary, but clients and staff won’t forget effective, calm leadership. This is an opportunity to learn, work together, and become stronger in the long run. Viewing it as such will benefit you, your clients, and your industry as a whole.