Pandemic Business Practices Worth Keeping
Almost every part of the American economy is opening up now and many of the businesses here in Florida have been operating at near pre-pandemic levels of activity. As we open up as a society it is worth pausing to reflect on the new activities, habits and protocols that we committed to during the pandemic. We will no doubt leave some of these activities behind as we progress out of the pandemic. Yet, we most certainly won’t go back to the same world we lived in pre-pandemic.
It may be too early to know for sure which of these pandemic-era changes will “stick”. However, as we open up it is becoming clear that some of these adjustments deliver real value to businesses when they are done right. Let’s explore some of the changes in each business department that, if done correctly, are likely to serve businesses long after the pandemic becomes history. In each department, we will also look at legal areas to be aware of in order to reduce risk and yield the best results.
Sales and Marketing
Despite a sharp reduction in foot traffic during the lockdown, a surprising number of businesses thrived. These businesses either had an e-commerce component where they could accept payments and/or deliver services online, or they quickly pivoted their business so that they relied more heavily on internet-based sales. Retail businesses that saw an increase in their online traffic benefitted from the fact that people were staying in their homes and ordering everything from food to car parts.
Networking events and business meetings also changed drastically as a result of social distancing during the pandemic. Businesses that usually met with clients and prospective clients in person began to use platforms such as Zoom which moved meetings online.
As we open up, it seems like internet adaptation will continue to peak since people find it convenient to meet remotely rather than driving across town (or flying to meet) or ordering an item online rather than in a physical store.
Legally, it is vital that companies that have digitized their business practices update their contracts and terms and conditions to meet the new risks and challenges brought by the platforms they are using. One area of exposure comes from the increased probability of the business or its clients becoming victims of cybercrimes. Unscrupulous hackers, often from far outside a businesses legal jurisdiction, can hack into a company’s online presence and steal customer data, spring a ransomware attack or infect the company and its clients with a computer virus. Companies could hedge against these risks by investing in cybersecurity insurance and IT defenses such as firewalls and secure backups. It is also essential that companies contract a knowledgeable legal professional with a background in business law to assist in the following areas:
- Drafting new language in standard sales contracts and terms and conditions
- Reviewing the protocols around recording and storing video chat meetings
“…we most certainly won’t go back to the same world we lived in pre-pandemic.”
Administration and Finance
Working from home became the norm early in the pandemic as lockdowns resulted in people not being able to go into the office. With millions of workers staying home, many companies began to see the financial benefits of not having to pay for office space. Now, although the economy is opening up again, many of the companies that thrived in a work-from-home (WFH) environment are planning on keeping at least some of their staff members remote.
Remote work presents some legal challenges to companies. These challenges include:
- Ensuring that WFH policies are carried out in a non-discriminatory manner
- Defining WFH as being literally working from an employees own home or, alternatively, allowing ‘remote work’ which can be done from anywhere that is not the company’s office
- Knowing how worker’s compensation insurance covers employees who WFH
- Knowing whether American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodations must be made for employees who WFH
- Knowing how to legally use apps to monitor employees productivity, location and other metrics during work hours in a way that does not infringe upon their privacy
It is also essential that companies contract a knowledgeable legal business professional to assist in the areas above and all other areas relating to how employee administration is managed.
The pandemic redefined health and safety precautions for many companies. Strict mask mandates, social distancing and work from home requirements were imposed where they were possible. As the lockdowns and mandates ease, there is a question as to whether some of these pandemic-era precautions could remain in place.
- Strict mask mandates. Some professions such as construction, commercial cleaning and other jobs where employees are exposed to chemicals and excessive dust may be served by continuing to impose (or at least suggest) that masks be worn.
- Social distancing. Some shift work schedules have changed during the pandemic to reduce the number of staff that must interact with each other to reduce the spread of COVID. Many of the companies who have reduced staff numbers have developed efficiencies that make it possible to continue operating with reduced shifts
It is important that companies review all contracts with a knowledgeable legal business professional to assist in the areas above and all other areas relating to how operations are managed.
South Florida Law
South Florida law is a boutique-sized law firm with big law firm resources. Our team consists of partner-level attorney’s that excel in the practice areas of business law, real estate law, estate planning, product liability law, construction law and personal injury. If your business is coming out of the pandemic and you require legal advice then reach out to us via our contact form or by calling (954) 900-8885.