Guide to Successfully Operating Your Business Through a Pandemic

Last Updated on November 9, 2020 by bigfish-admin

There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a year that none of us will easily forget. Many have struggled, some have flourished, but we have all been affected by the pandemic in some way. At Big Fish, we have been in close step with our community this year, as we all work to maneuver our altered world. 

Throughout the pandemic, business owners and operators have been forced to navigate their businesses through unprecedented conditions, all while ensuring they are meeting legal compliance standards and keeping their employees safe and healthy. At Big Fish, we have compiled a one-stop guide to helping you successfully operate your business through the pandemic. Read on for our best resources for managing and supporting both your business and employees during this time.

Employer Guide: Managing a Remote Workforce 

Work from home has grown 173% since 2005, with over 4.7 million employees currently working from home—that’s 3.4% of the workforce! Currently, that number has dramatically increased. Remote work has become inevitable in the wake of COVID-19 as daycares have closed, schools have shut down, and many employees have been required to work from home. 

The reality is, it’s not always going to be business as usual. If you’re trying to host a morning virtual meeting, your employees might run late. They might be working from their kitchen table, with kids and dogs in the background. Things are different now, and this is uncharted territory for many. Let’s understand how to approach remote work to yield the most successful results. 

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Employee Guide: Working from Home 

Do your employees need a helping hand when it comes to successfully working remotely? Share our guide to help them stay motivated while working from home. This can be a hard transition to make, especially when employees are not prepared for it. We’ve compiled guidance for employees to keep teams focused, motivated, happy, and engaged while working remotely. 

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How to Make Meetings with Remote Employees Effective 

While there may be no replacing the experience of being physically in the room with your team, you can take steps to make remote meetings more productive and inclusive. The most important thing to remember when “meeting” with remote employees is that you can’t conduct the meeting in the same way as you usually do when everyone is physically present. You have to find a way to replace the advantages that close proximity has, especially the ease of reading body language and picking up social cues. These, unfortunately, do not translate well over the screen or the phone. Here’s what you can do instead.

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Remote Company Culture 

Thanks to modern technology, the workforce has seen a large shift to remote working in the last decade. Given the current global pandemic, many companies and organizations have been suddenly thrust into managing remote teams. What can you do, as a manger or founder, to establish a positive culture for your remote teams? We’ve compiled the most important considerations for fostering culture within your remote team.

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How to Increase Productivity by Improving Workplace Mental Wellness 

The majority of American professionals spend a third of their lives at work – which is why work culture is so important. It’s a huge part of our lives. While there are a variety of factors that can influence culture, making employees feel valued lends to a workplace with the strongest and most positive cultures. When employees know they have this support, they are more likely to find meaning and purpose in their work, which, in turn, increases engagement and productivity. Here’s what you can do to improve mental wellness in the workplace. 

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Stay Sane and Productive While Being Home 

With much of the world’s population staying home, it’s important to consider how we will all continue to be productive, as we adjust to our new normal. For now, gone are the days of commuting to work, giving you more time back into the day to take care of business. 

With your newfound spare time, think of everything you can catch up on: sleep; hobbies; reading; correspondence with old friends and with family; laundry; even some fun DIY tasks. We’ve shared some of our favorite suggestions and resources to help you thrive while staying home.

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Supporting Businesses During COVID-19

COVID-19 has impacted our daily lives, and it has impacted businesses in every part of the country. For small, independent, local, and family-owned businesses, the pandemic has had a severe economic impact and owners are finding themselves suddenly deprived of customers. 

In a time when support from patrons can mean the difference between surviving the pandemic and coming out even stronger, or closing their doors completely, here are some ways to help make sure your favorite businesses are here to stay.

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Understanding the Differences between Furloughs and Layoffs 

Many leaders wish to protect their teams when they are unable to work. While paid leave is ideal, it is often not feasible for all businesses. For those seeking to determine whether a furlough or a layoff is the right fit for your situation, it is crucial to understand the basic differences between the two. 

While the words furlough and layoff are often used interchangeably, their meanings are actually different. We’ve broken down the differences between furloughs and layoffs, along with the steps required for each process.

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5 Reasons Cross Training Employees is Essential, During COVID-19 and Beyond

Imagine this: Your company’s controller is hospitalized due to COVID-19, and they are the only person within the company who can operate your accounting and payroll software. They are also the only person with check-signing authority, aside from the owner, who is on lockdown in another state. 

During this time, payroll still needs to be processed, and unpaid bills are piling up. What do you do? While the health of your staff should be your top priority, this situation highlights the importance of cross training your staff to handle critical tasks. 

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My Employee Tested Positive for Coronavirus…Now What? 

While it was once believed the summer and fall months would bring some relief, COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise in the United States. As a result, more employers are receiving the alarming news that an employee has tested positive for Coronavirus. 

So, if your employee has tested positive for COVID-19, do you know what to do next? We have listed all the considerations for employers to keep in mind as they address coronavirus cases in the workplace.

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2020 Payroll Tax Deferral Notice 

In August 2020, President Trump signed a memorandum allowing employees to request a deferral of their employee social security tax. This is a tax deferral, NOT an exemption. This means that those who choose to defer social security taxes will end up owing the money at a later point in time. 

Shortly after, the IRS released guidance on how this may work. Let’s review the IRS and Treasury-issued guidance on the 2020 payroll tax deferral. 

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PPPFA: Changes to the PPP and How That Will Impact Loan Forgiveness

In June 2020, President Trump signed into law the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA) to address concerns expressed by small businesses surrounding the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aimed at providing economic relief during COVID-19. 

The new law addresses changes to flaws in the original PPP created under the CARES Act. Do you understand these changes and how they impact your business? 

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COVID-19 Notification Requirements for California Employers 

On September 17, 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB-685, which requires employers to provide written notifications to employees within one business day of receiving notice of potential exposure to COVID-19. 

AB-685 also authorizes Cal/OSHA to prohibit operations, processes, and prevent entry into workplaces that determined to present a risk of COVID-19 infection so severe as to constitute an imminent hazard. Do you know what is required of you as a California employer? 

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Workers Compensation Liability for COVID-19 Claims in California 

In September 2020, the California legislature passed SB 1159, which evolves the framework for workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19. 

Due to its status as emergency legislation, this bill takes effect immediately. SB 1159 makes important adjustments to workers compensation liability claims in relation to the pandemic. How does this affect your business’ workers compensation liability? 

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Healthy Families and Workplaces Act Colorado 

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis signed the Healthy Families and Workplaces Act into law. Beginning 2021 (or later for smaller employers) this act will require Colorado employers to provide their employees with up to six paid sick days per year, and potentially more if there is a public health emergency. 

This act will also immediately extend COVID-related paid sick leave protections to employees who are not covered under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). As a Colorado employer, do you understand what is expected of you in relation to this law? 

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Operating business during a pandemic

To successfully operate your business throughout this pandemic and beyond, it is crucial to consider all aspects of your operations. We hope this guide has given you a few things to think about and, most importantly, some practical advice that you can put into action immediately!

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