Working From Home, During Coronavirus, Poses Challenges For Small Businesses

As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, more and more employers are sending their staff home, to work. While larger companies may be prepared for that kind of change, some small businesses are scrambling to catch-up.

Nancy Micek is among them. The certified public accountant has tax-day on the horizon and clients who are used to seeing and talking to her, face to face as they hand-over delicate paperwork.  

Covid-19 concerns have changed all that. "There's a lot of anxiety as to how I'm going to keep my business going; How I'm going to grow it; How I'm going to change and mold myself to this new environment," says Micek.     

"The small business owner is telling us they don't have the ability to work remotely," says Houston tech-expert Juan Guevara Torres., who's been counseling a number of small business-owners about keeping their proverbial 'doors' open while protecting themselves from infection.        

For many, that means connecting computers across miles rather than across the office. Several free, or low-cost, software applications are available, like Remote PC of Microsoft's Remote Desktop, that can be activated by most anyone. "You will be able to download a program, install that program into the computer that you want to log into remotely, and that will take 10 minutes and they will be able to work from everywhere," says Guevara Torres.

Another helpful-step for remote commerce is being able to store and share company documents through a cloud account, like Dropbox or Google Drive. Will Waterall, of Precision Documents Inc. has been helping companies convert their records to the cloud, for years. He thinks the crisis offers an opportunity for more businesses to catch-up with the times. "You can't compete in today's world without being able to work remotely from anywhere," says Waterall, "The logistics of getting everyone in an office together is just not realistic any more."        

Working from home also presents some other unique challenges that many will remember when Hurricane Harvey shut down a lot of businesses: How are you most productive? Do you need an active environment or solitude, and set-up your workspace accordingly?

Make it 'feel' like work: Get dressed, keep a routine with a start and stop to your day and find opportunities to get-up and move around.

They are strategies that will make the coming weeks more bearable.