When COVID-19 was first emerging from Wuhan, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about the virus. This new, novel coronavirus was going to stir up some sensationalized news stories, but soon enough it would fade out.
I wasn’t alone in believing this – dozens of pundits were sending out the same message. That’s why I was surprised in January when my wife was reluctant to get on a commercial flight.
My wife works in epidemiology, so when the world and I dismissed COVID-19 as a minor threat, she saw the oncoming storm that the rest of us missed. As weeks passed by and her predictions about the virus came true, I leaned on her more and more for advice. How could I find reliable information about COVID-19? What can I do as a business manager to navigate this crisis?
Since not everyone has an epidemiologist in their life, I wanted to share some of the most valuable advice my wife has provided to help me manage my business during a pandemic.
“The more you learn, the less you fear.” - Julian Barnes
Tip #1: Prioritize Health
When you’re uncertain about what to do next, choose the healthiest option. That means doing whatever you can to help your employees stay healthy.
Obviously, many businesses have shifted to a work from home model, but that’s not the only thing you can do to help. Check in with your staff to see if they are feeling healthy. Send updates to your team with positive or important news stories. Do what you can to make sure your team feels supported and in-the-loop about what’s happening next.
Tip #2: Stick to the facts
This may seem obvious, but it’s harder to do in practice than many people realize.
In a time of crisis, misinformation can be as dangerous as any virus, and reliable information can be difficult to come by. New rumors seem to crop up every day about how much better or how much worse things are getting, so traditional news sources are struggling to separate fact from fiction.
If you aren’t certain something is true, do your research. Each of us has a responsibility to stay informed and to question what we think we know.
Tip #3: Trust the Experts
Thankfully, my wife isn’t the only person who’s been keeping an eye on COVID-19 for the last few months. Experts in epidemiology and economics are doing everything they can to help business leaders stay informed about the coronavirus crisis.
Go straight to the source for your information rather than relying on second-hand reporting. Read through the CDC’s webpage for businesses and employers. Keep an eye on Johns Hopkins’ COVID-19 dashboard. Sources like these will be much more helpful than any 24-hour news network.
Even with these tips, managing during a crisis is no easy task. If you have questions about how to face the next few weeks, check out our COVID-19 resource center, and reach out to me if you want to talk about your business’s plan to face the next few months.