Ben Bierman, Managing Director of Business Partners Limited
Ben Bierman, Managing Director of Business Partners Limited

Business101: 6 tips for businesses to manage the impact of the coronavirus

By Ben Bierman Time of article published Mar 22, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa this week declared a national state of disaster and set out precautionary measures to combat the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) in South Africa. 

Many businesses will be facing a challenging operating environment but there are some measures they can take to minimise the impact this has. Here are some tips on how to best manage the situation at your business:


Protecting your employees and customers  since one of the main ways that COVID-19 spreads is through the contamination of surfaces. The World Health Organisation advises wiping down all surfaces and objects with disinfectant regularly. Offer hand sanitiser and ensure that there is soap and water available at all times. Also avoid physical contact, such as handshakes.


Set up a response team dedicated for staff and responses to absorb demand shocks. If of your staffers you experiences any flu-like symptoms, ensure they alert their line-manager and follow company protocol which should include self-quarantine and contacting a doctor or
visiting a testing centre. Consider revisiting your insurance policies and create a contingency plan for the ramifications of COVID-19  such as a drop in sales or disrupted global supply chain as a result of closed ports.


To avoid the spread of the virus, “social distancing” has been advised. It therefore might help to encourage employees to work from home or work on a skeleton staff until things are under control. Employees who take public transport should also be encouraged to avoid the crowds by travelling at off-peak times where possible.


The government has placed a ban on gatherings of more than 100 people, which means any
upcoming business events or conferences should be postponed. In the age of digital means that businesses do not have to grind to a halt. Instead meetings can be conducted through tech applications such as Skype, Google Hangouts or Zoom. Where practical, consider expanding online sales. Consumers demand that most things be available at the
click of the mouse and this might be the best time to add an e-commerce element to the business’ website.


Although there are no explicit travel prohibitions for South Africans, citizens have been advised to refrain from all forms of travel to or through identified high-risk regions and countries like the European Union, China and South Korea. Even domestic travel is discouraged. As such, take meetings online instead of travelling wherever possible. Alo make sure that anyone in the business who has travelled overseas recently – or plans to in the near future - complies with the new testing and quarantine measures.


Dealing with a crisis well will show clients, customers, employees and suppliers that you have resilience as a business. Tackle the issue head on and communicate clear company policies on how the business plans to manage COVID-19 to avoid panic and limit any damage done to existing relationships.

Ben Bierman is a managing director at Business Partners Limited


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