Is your business ready to implement social distancing?

SMEs often lack specialist finance advisers to help them turn raw finance data into business insight. They often rely on their intuition to see the bigger picture, and hope to get the detail right. Professional advice is always worth seeking; if it will help you build strategy from complex financial information, but there's plenty you can do by yourself too, if you know what to home in on...

With social distancing likely to become the new normal in the months ahead, is your business ready to adapt? There’s so much information out there that its hard to see the wood from the trees.  In this post we’ve gathered together the sites and links that give you the information you need to know as our economy opens up again in the weeks and months ahead.

NB: All information and links provided here are taken from government agencies or other reputable industry sources. 

1. What do you need to think about? 

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has produced a comprehensive checklist to help you systematically go through all the aspects you’ll need to consider when implementing safety and social distancing guidelines within your business.

On the face of it, this checklist might well raise many more questions and jobs to be done than it solves, however it is a good reference document to ensure you cover all the bases.

Now, let’s move on to how you can start ticking off some of these chunky topics.

2. Share the load 

The very first task on the checklist is to appoint someone in your team as your Covid-19 co-ordinator, and a deputy for them. Depending on the size of your business you might need a larger core team especially if you have multiple sites. However there should be one person with ultimate oversight to ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.

3. Clear and consistent communication

With such complex and continually changing guidelines, clear and regular communication about what you expect from your staff, suppliers and customers is key.

It is particularly important to ensure that company policies (for example around absence management) are communicated to all employees to reduce the spread of rumour and misinformation.

IBEC’s recent article “The role of HR against the backdrop of COVID-19”  includes some practical tips to think about when preparing to communicate with your employees.

4. Get the facts

It really is a case of reading through the guidelines that apply to your sector and type of workplace. Here are some good places to look:

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has a resource section dedicated to getting businesses ready to operate under the new social distancing guidelines. Their guides for retailers and general workplace safety are comprehensive, but also very accessible and practical documents to help you understand requirements for signage, developing safe working and shopping environments and how to deal with situations where employees feel unwell at work.

To download signage, the website has the correct logos and public information posters. The HSE website also has a range of handwashing posters.

5. Get financial and expert support

DBEI’s comprehensive list of financial and business supports explain all the government schemes and funding initiatives to support businesses through this unprecedented time. The supports below are specifically designed to help businesses transition to the new normal.

  • Business Continuity Voucher: Worth up to €2,500, the Local Enterprise Office Business Continuity Voucher is designed for businesses that employ up to 50 people. It is designed to be used to cover consultancy costs from approved suppliers to develop short-term and long-term strategies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Trading Online Voucher: Designed for businesses of up to 10 employees, the Local Enterprise Office Trading Online Voucher offers financial assistance of up to €2,500 along with training and advice to help your business trade online.
  • Training and Mentoring: Enterprise Ireland’s eiLearn is an online learning resource where you can access over 400 pieces of customised content designed for Irish SMEs.
  • COVID-19 Online Retail Scheme: Applications are now open for the new Enterprise Ireland Covid-19 Online Retail Scheme to support retail companies to enhance their digital capability. Grants ranging from €10,000 to €40,000 will be awarded under the competitive scheme.
  • COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant: The COVID-19 Business Financial Planning Grant, worth up to €5,000, is designed to help companies employing more than 10 full time employees, including Enterprise Ireland clients, to develop a robust financial plan.
  • Lean Business Improvement Voucher: The Lean Business Continuity Voucher is available to eligible companies to access up to €2,500 in training or advisory services support related to the continued operation of their businesses during the current pandemic. It is open to small, medium or large client companies of Enterprise Ireland or Údarás na Gaeltachta (including High Potential Start-ups). The voucher may be used to obtain services from approved providers.
  • Businesses located in a Gaeltacht region can also avail of schemes though Údarás na Gaeltachta.

Finally, if your business could benefit from additional working capital to aid cash flow or to adapt to the new normal, Linked Finance is here to help.  We can provide simple, no hassle unsecured business loans with minimal paperwork and no strings attached to drawdown. Apply now.

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