The coronavirus pandemic has been responsible for more than 3.9 million cases and over 272,570 deaths around the world according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins at the time of this writing.
Simply put, it is the worst global pandemic since the Spanish flu wreaked unimaginable death on the world more than a century ago.
But in other ways, the coronavirus pandemic has been unprecedented. Never before have we seen virtually the entire sporting and social world shut down. Additionally, social distancing restrictions have eliminated commerce, forced mass layoffs, and closed countless businesses for good.
We have not seen the United States economy plummet like this since the Great Depression. In the month of April alone, there have been more than 23 million jobless claims in the U.S., while unemployment spiked to 14.7% after being at 3.5% mere months ago.
LendEDU, a personal finance company, has been tracking how the coronavirus is impacting the finances of everyday Americans through a series of recurring surveys of 1,000 adult Americans each. From March 18 to April 1, just a short two-week timeframe, LendEDU saw the percentage of Americans who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic double from 6% to 12%.
These numbers, and the COVID-19 virus in general, illustrate the tough decisions that business owners have had to make over the last couple of months. The business owners that have been fortunate enough to avoid layoffs face a different challenge in trying to maintain a productive team despite employees having to work remotely from home.
For most companies, revenue has taken a severe hit as people stay indoors or tighten their budgets in the midst of an economic downturn. With less money coming in, business owners must look to reduce the amount of money going out in order to maintain the staff that keeps the wheels turning.
As a business owner, audit your company’s financials and look to trim excess expenses wherever possible. Companies, especially older ones, likely have numerous subscriptions that they never use yet still pay for. Cut these subscriptions no matter how insignificant because every dollar counts these days and keeping employees is more important than keeping subscriptions.
Additionally, if your office lease is coming to an end shortly, you need to seriously consider dropping that lease and fully embracing remote work. Many of us are likely not to see an office anytime soon, so why continue to pay for one when that money could be used for payroll?
Finally, look into applying for a government-funded Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan if you have not already. If 75% of a PPP loan is used for payroll and office expenses like rent, it turns into a grant that does not have to be repaid.
As mentioned earlier, business owners that have been fortunate enough to keep staff are facing a different type of challenge: maintaining a productive remote work environment.
At LendEDU, we have been working remotely since the start of the pandemic, and things have still been humming along. Utilize the various services that are offered by technology companies these days. For example, to maintain communication, we use Slack and have bi-weekly all-hands Zoom meetings. To keep track of files and ensure everyone is organized and on the same page, we use a cloud collaboration database and service called Airtable, in addition to Dropbox.
Further, employees need to create an office feel as much as possible within their homes, and one key component of this is working on dual monitors. If you have the funds for it, consider investing in some at-home monitors for your employees to boost productivity, morale, and efficiency, as well as creating a comfortable office environment.
For business owners, the challenges today are immense and sometimes impossible to handle. For example, a recent LendEDU study found a correlation between having a lower income and having higher chances of contracting the virus. This could mean that if you own a service-based business like a restaurant or landscaping company, you already understand that you have no choice but to send employees into harm’s way to keep the business running.
Ultimately, no matter how difficult things may seem right now as a business owner, it is important to remember that we will bounce back from this in due time like we always have when faced with a challenge.
In his role at LendEDU, Mike Brown uses data, usually from surveys and publicly-available resources, to identify emerging personal finance trends and tell unique stories. Mike’s work, featured in major outlets like The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, provides consumers with a personal finance measuring stick and can help them make informed finance decisions.