Hey, for those of you only reading the first sentence, wash your hands more!
The coronavirus is real. It is still spreading in Europe and the USA and much of the world. You don’t need to panic, but there are some easy steps and some perhaps difficult steps we should be taking in our shops.
What can we do and not do in our shops?
1. Wash Your Hands – Wash your hands often. It is nearly impossible to stop germs from getting on particularly hard surfaces and then into you. The weak link is your hands picking up the germs and getting them into you. You can’t necessarily control what you touch. You can’t control who else touched it. But you can look after your own hands. Epidemiologists say that hand washing alone will reduce cases in the country by almost 25%. In a pinch water is better than nothing. Foaming soap is only a little better. You really want liquid soap or bar soap and you want to wash your hands for 20 seconds. There are some great recommendations to know how long 20 seconds is on twitter, including Happy Birthday sung twice or the chorus of this Land is Your Land or the chorus of Staying Alive ironically enough. Drying with paper towels also helps. So in your shop make sure there is soap, make sure there are towels, and make sure to impress on your employees how important it is.
It seems unfriendly, but don’t shake hands right now. If you do, go wash your hands afterwards.
2. Stay Home When Sick or Possibly Exposed – This can be a tough one for small businesses, but you are going to have to encourage your employees to stay home if they are sick or if they have kids or other folks at home that are sick. It sucks to have people out, but you can’t have sick people spreading the corona virus or even getting people sick in any other way because with compromised immune systems people sometimes die from this.
Suck it up and add more sick time. Most of your employees need that paycheck, but you can’t have sick people at work or parents of sick kids at work. If anyone is sneezing or coughing, send them home. Are some people going to lie about it? Yes, they are, but if you are going to have to eventually replace crappy workers like that anyway. Them lying about sick time is probably the least of your problems with them.
3. Masks Don’t Help – Wearing any kind of mask doesn’t really help. It only helps not to spread viruses to others if you are sick . However, this has not stopped half the world from going out and buying up all the masks. So, if you use them to not inhale spray adhesive, you are going to run out of masks. This is a good time to switch entirely, or at least partially, to roll on adhesive.
4. Work from Home – The reality is most of your workers cannot work at home, but maybe your sales people can or your bookkeepers. At this point, many of their customers don’t want to see them either, so the sales people might as well be home. Your good sales people will sell from home or the road, so having them stay home isn’t a problem.
5. Clean – Clean surfaces with detergents and water, and disinfect as well. Bathrooms, lunch rooms, light switches, tables etc. Bleach works great as anything else, diluted 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water. NEVER mix anything with ammonia and bleach. Wear gloves when cleaning. Double or triple up your janitorial responsibilities right now, whether adding more people or adding time to somebody’s responsibilities.
6. Prepare for a Sales Downturn – Hoard your cash and don’t add people right now because there will be at best a slight recession coming from this. Business in tourism, events, and many other sectors will be impacted. Don’t think you are immune if you are not involved in such areas because those who are involved those areas will start competing with you if they see their work drying up.
7. Don’t Panic and Stay Informed – Turn off your TV sometimes and use the mostly common sense advice. The reality is that most people will not get sick. Concentrate on what you can control rather than using your energy worrying. Go to the CDC or WHO websites for information.
Wash your hands out there!