• How The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Affect Your Rural Business

The Coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the world at the moment is affecting everything about the way that our society is functioning. From the temporary closure of schools to the rationing of certain food in the supermarket – not to mention restrictions on the amount that we are able to leave our homes.

Another worry is the effect that the virus and the restrictions associated with it will have on the economy and businesses in both urban and rural settings. If you are running your business from somewhere outside of the city, things can have the additional worry of a perception of being more isolated and further away from other businesses.

Supplies

The fact that your business is located in a rural area can be making it trickier to get your normal supplies, as supermarkets are generally more sparse. Although petrol stations are still open, we have also seen a rise in the number of people who are using diesel tanks to keep a small supply of petrol should they need some in case access is a bit more difficult. Rural communities tend to depend on diesel tanks more so than those living in urban areas, because, as Tanks for Everything states: ‘These tanks are often used on farms and construction sites as they offer a safe and secure method of storing and using diesel fuels.’ So, it makes sense for this to be to be an urgent requirement.

Some businesses are ordering larger amounts of supplies so that they can take deliveries less frequently, and decrease the need to interact with other people as much as possible. However, this can lead to shortages in the supply chain as the system gets overwhelmed.

Remote Working

As the British government has ruled that we are only to leave our houses if absolutely necessary, we are seeing an increased number of people working from home – or at least limiting their time in the workplace. For rural businesses, this might be more challenging than in towns and cities due to less stable or slower internet connections.

Of course, for many rural businesses, there might be a lot of work that needs to be carried out on-site – for those who work in agriculture, for example – an industry that is essential to keep the country fed – especially at this time.

For these businesses, it is critical that social distancing is applied where possible, and sensible precautions are taken to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.

Sickness

Another risk that especially rural businesses may have – and need to consider – is staff sickness. For smaller businesses or ones that require specialist skills, having a large percentage of your workforce off sick at any given time can be very difficult. You should be thinking about how your business will be able to cope with this.

For many people, this should only be for a week or so, but there is also the chance that workers might have to spend two weeks in quarantine if one of their household members gets Coronavirus.

It is important that you keep up to date with the latest government advice regarding which businesses can be open and what they recommend in terms of physical contact.

Financial Help

One of the outcomes that we are seeing from the outbreak of Covid-19 is the fact that many businesses are suffering from a slump in demand, but a few are seeing massive rises in necessity – agriculture, for example.

For those who work in hospitality, the travel restrictions that are in place can be crippling and this is why the government is offering some financial help to businesses. They have offered a job retention scheme whereby businesses can keep their employees on their books, but with the government paying 80% of their wages. They have also agreed to a VAT and rates holiday for businesses, a self-employed income support scheme, and some grants, funds, and loans are also available.

During the Pandemic

Depending on the nature of your rural business, you may be able to continue working as ‘normal’ or you may not. There is plenty that you can do even if you are unable to carry out your normal duties and you can try to look at this time as a time to ‘get yourself organised’. When the world gets back to ‘normal’ you want to be ready and raring to go, so you could consider:

  • Getting your accounts in shape and up-to-date
  • Deep cleaning your premises
  • Doing any outstanding admin
  • Ensuring that your website and SEO is updated and effective
  • Getting your personnel records for staff up-to-date

The truth is that we don’t really know how the Coronavirus is going to affect rural businesses over time and as the government rules and strategies change. It is likely, however, that it is going to be a challenging time for most businesses – if it already isn’t.

It is important to remember, however, that you are not alone. Just as many of us are physically isolated from other people, remember that we are all going through a similar experience and we will come out of it the other side.

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