Surfing the second wave

11th September 2020

The headlines over the past few days have been somewhat alarming, with talk of the R number being above 1 and the levels of coronavirus rising again in most of the UK. It seems likely that the feared second wave of coronavirus is on its way, what is not known is how big that wave will be and what measures will need to be put in place to control it.

All this is happening at a time when people are being urged to go back to work, as the government tries to balance the impact of further restrictions, which can harm health by damaging education and the economy, against the risk of the virus spreading.

This is a tough time for businesses – each person has their own perception of the risk that is posed by coronavirus – some people are not worried at all and some are terrified of re-emerging into the world after lockdown. Employers have to find a way through this which allows their business to not only function but if possible to thrive, whilst making sure their employees feel safe and indeed are safe.

With the furlough scheme coming to an end, and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak stating that there will be no further extension after the end of October, businesses are going to have to focus on careful planning to maximise cash flow and profit margins. So what can you do?

Embrace the new normal

Many businesses were forced to adopt new technologies at the beginning of lockdown in March, with staff having to work from home if possible. For some staff this was a welcome relief from long commutes, internal meetings of questionable value, and interruptions from colleagues, leading to increased productivity. For others this was not the case, perhaps due to having young children around or to not having the space and peace to work effectively.

Smart businesses will take this opportunity to adopt a new way of working that provides flexibility to staff so that each member can work in the way that suits them best.

Keep an eye on the numbers

Now is the time for careful financial management, and businesses need to look at how to maximise profit margins, control spending and focus on credit control. The one thing that is certain in a pandemic is that we must expect the unexpected and so managing your cash flow so that you have funds available should there be another lockdown in your area is vital. You may need to make tough decisions for the good of the business, such as letting people go, in order to ensure that the business can survive, thus protecting the rest of the employees.

Be prepared

We can’t know what is going to happen over the next few months and therefore need to be ready for anything. If you model as many scenarios as possible you can make sure that you have a strategy for whatever comes next. You need to identify the risks to your business and factor these into your planning.

Be adaptable

The pandemic has shown just how much people can achieve when they put their mind to it if they are open to change. Pubs and restaurants that were shut down started takeaway services, catering companies cooked for people’s freezers, gyms and bootcamps went online, and many businesses started to make masks and PPE. Now is not the time to do what you’ve always done.

My prediction for the next boom industry is warm and waterproof clothing, and maybe patio heaters and gazebos! Socialising outside is all well and good now but the British weather is about to make that a lot more challenging.

Get help

The furlough scheme may be ending but there is still help available for businesses. The government has recently announced a new tranche of grants of between £1,000 and £5,000 to help small and medium-sized businesses to recover from the effect of the coronavirus pandemic. Businesses will be able to use the grants to help them access professional services advice from accountants, HR experts and lawyers as well as to purchase new technology and equipment. The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is available until 4 November 2020, with potential for it to be extended. If you haven’t already done so, check out the coronavirus support finder.

How can we help?

If you are unclear on any coronavirus issues that your business is facing, let us know and we will be happy to help.

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