How To Prepare Your Business For Another Pandemic

Shu Saito, founder of All Filters | Every Filter for Every Need, Refrigerator, Air, Water, and More.Every Filter for Every Need, Refrigerator, Air, Water, and More.

It’s not an understatement to say that Covid-19 was the defining feature of 2020. The pandemic changed the way we live our lives, meet people and do business — especially e-commerce. In many ways, we’re still reeling from the changes that the pandemic wrought. Nevertheless, we should look ahead and prepare for the next pandemic as we recover from this current pandemic.

I was the CEO and founder of an e-business selling water and air filters during Covid. These changes helped my company survive 2020 and prepare to succeed in the future. These tips can also be helpful to other businesses in protecting their employees and businesses.

Make sure to have face masks for guests and employees.

A face mask is one of the best things an ecommerce company can do to prepare for a pandemic. Many employees can work remotely, especially in an online business. Many e-commerce companies still need employees in-house and other workers who might need to enter and leave the building. 

Face-mask fatigue is a real problem, but research has shown that masks have helped to reduce the Covid-19 pandemic. To our success with Covid-19, I credit having a supply of masks. I also plan to keep plenty of disposable masks to build guests.

Consider whether any of your operations can still be performed remotely.

It was easy for me tell my office workers to work from home during a pandemic. But I had to think creatively to keep my warehouse employees safe. 

In particular, we developed a new fulfillment system that included improving our technology. First, remote employees created packing labels at their home. Next, software was developed that could automatically upload them to the cloud server. An employee at a warehouse could print multiple labels online, rather than making individual labels. To prevent duplicate printing, the labels were removed from the server to save time.

This streamlined our process tremendously, and even doubled our sales — all while we were able to keep our number of in-house employees below the CDC-recommended number. We now know as a company that we are adaptable enough for major changes to be made quickly and efficiently in order to stay afloat.

Invest in a password app that is secure.

Hackers were not immune to the pandemic. Passwords were a major target even though the world was in a state of emergency. It is important to ensure that your company has a password application. This will allow you to be more productive and secure, while also allowing you to plan for the next pandemic.

Our password app allowed us to take several important actions for my ecommerce company. First, the app allowed me to control who had access to the company’s valuable assets, so only essential people could view, edit and share information. Second, employees no longer had to remember and type their passwords every day, which can slow down e-commerce businesses. I was able keep passwords safe and allow employees access to information when they need it.

Install a bidet (if you can).

Due to the Covid-19 crises and the concomitant shortage in toilet paper, the bidet could finally become a big hit in the U.S. The best part is that a bidet can make the entire experience of using the bathroom a hands-free one. 

If your company is not ready to commit to a bidet, that’s OK. You can still make it easy to install one. All you need to do is install a toilet outlet. If possible, I would make sure at least one toilet in the men’s and women’s bathroom has a bidet installation spot. We don’t know what may come, but a bidet means that it could be a slightly cleaner future.

Buy a touchless thermometer for temperature checks.

I made it a part my employee check in process to take their temperature at the beginning of the pandemic. We still use a touchless thermometer at entry points to determine if people are showing symptoms and to monitor their health as businesses and communities reopen.

Other methods of assessing temperatures, such as oral thermometers require more contact and a higher risk of spreading disease. Covid demonstrated that it was difficult to purchase touchless thermometers due to high demand. Now is the right time to purchase one. 

Deliver meals to employees by using a food delivery service

We ate together during the pandemic. This was one of our favorite actions. In March 2020 I began offering lunch to all of the employees. Providing meals not only limited exposure, because employees weren’t going out to a myriad of restaurants, but it also created a feeling of community and dialogue.

We enjoyed eating together so much that I’m still providing meals until all of us are fully vaccinated. To increase the restaurant’s profits, you can order similar food directly from them. Even though ordering lunch might not be feasible, there are other ways to build community.

Keep up-to-date with the CDC and health expert recommendations.

Businesses should be familiar with CDC and expert guidelines to minimize disruptions during a pandemic or other health crisis. We identified a workplace coordinator to oversee Covid-19 health updates and their effect on our business. This was done to avoid panicking and misinformation. We also established an emergency communications plan which identified key contacts and provided backups. There was also a chain of communication (that included customers) that allowed us to track and communicate employee status.

My e-commerce business survived and thrived during one of the most turbulent times in history by providing masks for others, being open to new ideas, creating checkpoints and encouraging a sense of community. These steps, while not very dramatic, helped me protect my business, and more importantly, my customers and employees.

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