With much of the Philippines moving under General or Modified General Community Quarantine — GCQ or MGCQ — classification, the next status to look forward to is the transition from MGCQ to New Normal. That’s if all goes well, and we hope and pray it does.
New Normal is basically the new way of doing things, of going about our daily activities in an adjust manner as a result of this pandemic. Technically, the IATF gives New Normal the following definition:
New Normal refers to the emerging behaviors, situations, and minimum public health standards that will be institutionalized in common or routine practices and remain even after the pandemic while the disease is not totally eradicated through means such as widespread immunization. These include actions that will become second nature to the general public as well as policies such as bans on large gatherings that will continue to remain in force.Philippines COVID-19 IATF Omnibus Guidelines on Community Quarantine
Getting “ready” for the New Normal can be broken down to components, i.e. getting ready in terms of compliance to legal requirements, getting operations ready, and finally getting leadership mentally ready.
Get Your Business Legally Ready
Have you started the compliance process of getting your business ready with legal requirements and licenses?
Submit Your LGU Requirements
There are Local Government Units or LGUs requiring businesses that will resume work under GCQ/MGCQ to submit Sworn Statements/Affidavits/Undertakings that the business owner or management will ensure the maintenance of workplace health standards.
This is usually to be enforced by your City/Municipality business licensing and/or health divisions. They may also require you to submit weekly reports.
Check with your Mayor’s Office on these and get it ready as soon as possible. Visit your City/Municipality Public Information Office (PIO) page on facebook. This channel is usually updated more regularly.
Compliance to Minimum Health Protocols and Standards
The DTI, DOLE, and DOH have teamed up to prescribe guidelines on workplace prevention and control of COVID-19. If your LGU has other items not found in these guidelines, then it be best to add it to the list of things-to-do.
Convene your workplace safety / health officers or committees to ensure these guidelines are implemented and followed.
Get your employees face masks or face shields if applicable. Wearing masks, ensuring regular disinfection, and sanitation of touch points, and keeping social/physical distancing measures are the basic guidelines in any workplace.
Ensure entry ways are equipped with temperature scanners, foot baths and hand sanitizing or hand washing stations. Please regularly change the foot bath chlorine solution or else it won’t be effective. And put some real soap in your dispensers as watered-down liquid soap is discouraging.
Many of the supplies needed can be purchased in wholesale or bulk through hospitality supply companies or even with legit sellers on facebook Marketplace.
Get Your Business Operationally Ready
When getting your business ready operationally, you have to make sure all systems are nominal, or better yet all contributing to business success as we enter the New Normal.
Examine and anticipate your cash flow.
We are in an uncertain business environment and the extent of how exactly consumer behavior will change relative to our industries will only be known as we are operating. Caution is the name of the game financially for both businesses and customers.
This includes negotiating with our landlords on rent and suppliers for some leeway. Any form of discount, waiving of fees/interest, or extended payments/deferred payments should be welcomed. The same goes for items on the accounts receivable. Think win-win as everyone is affected and it is a partnership after all.
You will need to examine what products/services to keep so the sales effort is focused and more effective. Overhead should be kept as low as possible. Your resources will need to be refocused to activities that will more surely bring back a return that does not affect the quality of the product/service.
If more cash is needed, look to your stockholders if they can lend any more capital, or approach government public banking institutions like DTI’s Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.), Land Bank (LBP), or Development Bank (DBP). Of course, if you have premium/preferred good standing with your private bank then it won’t hurt to check-in with them on any programs they may have.
DTI’s SB Corp. Loan Program to Assist Businesses hit by COVID-19
In case you haven’t read or heard, the Philippines’ Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through its arm, Small Business Corporation (SB Corp.) has a loan program specific to businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. More about SB Corp. and its mandate can be read here. The program is called “CARES” for “COVID-19 Assistance to…
Get your business a website for free! DTI partners with EasyBuilder.Pro for MSME assistance.
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has partnered with EasyBuilder.Pro, a website building platform based in the European Union to provide Filipino MSMEs with waived subscription fees to start their own website.
Your employees will be the front-liners, so in addition to equipping them to stay healthy and keep workplaces safe and secure, HR operations will need to be flexible and more attentive to situations like reasons for leaves/absences/tardiness, workplace motivation, and mental health preservation.
Customer service will be on the spotlight too because of the need for businesses to be online, respond to queries and deliver quotes via email, video conference, or chat.
Get your business listed in Google Businesses for free, or update your existing listings. Claim your facebook page so customers can contact you on the most popular social media platform in the Philippines and you will have additional channels to market your products and services.
Finally, management and departments will need to modify their operations with speed and innovation in adapting to the times. Things are moving very fast and in some cases, several businesses will need to move quickly to cut costs and remain afloat. Others may need to update/upgrade their products/services with tweaks to packaging or service delivery. Others may even think of ways to diversify so that risks like these in the future can be better mitigated. These things will need to be seriously examined by the key decision makers.
Are You Mentally Prepared?
Business owners and department leaders will have to ask themselves this question, too. It is understandable that there is both fear and excitement, anxiety and optimism going through your heads as we transition to this New Normal.
Essentially as a business owner like you, I just want our business to survive.
This health crisis has turned so many things upside down. As it is, there are losses but at the same time there are opportunities. It is important to be mentally prepared to overcome all the challenges beyond just achieving the above-mentioned things-to-do.
To those who are expecting to fold their businesses, equipping yourselves mentally involves treating the development as not the end-all and be-all of your existence. Take the opportunity to deal with the situation in a process while engaging friends and family. You may choose to take a break or take on a new industry or career, and that’s okay. There may also be a new endeavor down the road that seizes a business opportunity in these times.
To those expecting their businesses to still be there in the New Normal, take it as an opportunity to become stronger and more resilient, as an entrepreneur and for the business.
The pandemic has placed great value on life, health, and the need to prepare in all aspects should similar events happen in the future.