Private businesses will be back. It has to be. By definition, entrepreneurs are resilient and versatile. If your business is closed or running a skeleton operation, this is the time to think about how the world will be changed when things get back to “normal.” I recently wrote about examining your existing business here: Make the Best of this Difficult Time When Your Business Is Closed or Slowed. You should also plan to move forward.
Things will be different. Like after 9/11, our world will change when businesses are allowed to reopen and/or be fully operational. No one can predict exactly all the ways that the business world will change, but we can probably all agree that personal hygiene practices are going to be a big issue.
You can best predict how your own business will be impacted, but you should take some time to really think about it. If you serve the public, what additional hygienic steps will take to protect the public and your employees? How can you use some ingenuity to gain an advantage over your competitors?
Should you even implement policies on hand-shaking, coughing, washing hands, etc.? While such policies are a no-brainer if you are in the food business, all businesses will have to consider such policies and others. Can you take an employee’s temperature? Will any policies run afoul of existing laws or place you at risk for employee lawsuits? How will your new policies jibe with wage and hour laws?
How can you change your sick-leave and work-at-home policies to recruit and keep the best talent? What policies do you need if the pandemic subsides, but then picks back up again in the fall or winter? How do new state and federal laws impact what you can do?
How can you take advantage of video conferencing for meetings and training or even job interviews? I think we all see that Zoom and other services can work really well.
What will you demand from your vendors? What changes do you need for your standard contracts? There has been a lot of discussion about force majeure contract clauses. It’s probably time to review these. If you have arbitration clauses, do you want the option for video conference arbitration? If you are in a litigious industry, how will it impact you if the courts effectively close for civil business (as they are now in Massachusetts, other than urgent matters)?
The takeaway is that the world will change, so all of your contracts, policies and practices may need to change with it. But do it smartly and do it legal. Also, be on the lookout for business opportunities that allow your company to be part of the solution and make money at the same time.
Adam P. Whitney
Fine print: the above is not legal advice, but general information. I cannot provide legal advice without a written fee agreement and a full review of your legal matter.