We’re living through strange and stressful times. A pandemic has taken hold of the world, with most countries now reducing travel across the borders and requesting that people stay home. The majority of us are listening, for the sake of ourselves, others’ health and in order to support the healthcare staff tackling coronavirus and Covid-19 to keep us safe and well.
But many of us have also taken a hit by doing this. Sure, staying in is giving us a chance to unwind, take a look at our lives and our goals and maybe even do a few things we’ve been putting off for lack of free time.
But many of us are also financially struggling. We’re unable to work and, depending on the country you’re living in right now, there might not be all too much support to tide you over. We don’t want to reach out for loans or credit cards not knowing how long this situation may continue, but we still need to pay our bills.
The good news is that there are a few different ways to keep yourself afloat financially right now. Here are a few suggestions that might be able to help you and your current financial situation.
Check Out Available Government Help
Different governments are offering different schemes to help financially. In the UK, the government is encouraging companies to furlough staff rather than laying them off, agreeing to pay 80% of the employee’s income to help both the company and the individual out. In the US, a stimulus cheque for eligible individuals, giving them a boost of up to $1200. Take a look at what your own government is offering in support of you. If you are completely out of work, you may be able to sign up for welfare state benefits. The payments are often small, but better than nothing and could contribute towards your bills.
Advice for Individuals
If you’re used to working for someone, you may have found that you cannot now go into work. The company you work for may have even collapsed under the pressure of the current situation. If this is your current situation, here are a few ideas that could help you still make an income.
Apply for Key Worker Positions
If you’re usually an employee but can’t work at the moment, you could apply for other unskilled key worker positions. This means you don’t have to retrain and could enter a paid role quickly. Many companies such as supermarkets are in great need of extra staff right now to deal with extra demand and fewer operating hours. Stacking shelves or operating a check out may be a little different to what you’re used to, but it pays and that’s what counts in times like this. You can also rest assured that you’re helping your community in the process. Other roles that are looking for staff immediately include farmers who need fruit pickers to pick their fruit from trees before they go overripe.
Another option is freelancing. In order to freelance, you will have to register as self-employed, a process which will give you a unique tax reference number and ensure you can file your taxes and other necessary contributions for your self-employed work at the end of the tax year. Once you have this, you can start looking around for remote freelance positions. Generally, you will need some sort of skill to achieve this. Maybe you have experience in graphic design. You might be a writer who can pick up copywriting projects. You may be a product photographer who can be mailed products to take photographs in your own home. This may be untraversed territory for you, but it can boost your bank balance. Who knows - you may enjoy the freedom of the role and want to stick with it once all this passes anyway!
Advice for Business Owners
Running a business is particularly tough right now. Many have switched their goals from generating huge profits and hitting farfetched KPIs and targets to simply being able to keep afloat. Here are a few ways that you can achieve this and maximize the amount of profit that your company is generating.
Make Sure Staff Can Work Remotely
There are obviously companies who can’t have their staff work remotely, such as construction companies. But if your staff are usually office based, chances are they can carry out their role at home. Just make sure that they have all of the equipment and software that they require for remote working. If they already have a laptop for their work, let them take it home. If they usually use a desktop in the office, invest in a laptop for them. You may have to set up a VPN so that network operations, data that they’re using and other sensitive information remains secure. You should also consider investing in software like Microsoft Teams. This is specially designed to help remote workers communicate with one another effectively. Instant messaging ensures teams can collaborate and voice call and video call features will allow your team to still carry out meetings as required.
Set KPIs and Targets
Staff may be tempted to slack a little while they’re working from home. They don’t have a manager or other senior figure keeping an eye on them throughout the day, checking they’re actually working rather than lounging around. Now, you don’t want to go too hard on your staff. This is a difficult time anyway and working from home can take some getting adjusted to. But you still want them to perform. Set KPIs (or “key performance indicators”) or targets for them. This will ensure that they complete any work that is expected of them on time and to a good quality.
Keep In Touch
Communication really is going to be key to your company’s success right now. Check in on your staff regularly to ensure that they are coping okay. You may want to ask if there’s anything you can do or provide them with which will overcome issues they may be experiencing with remote working, or that will make their role easier and more straightforward. It could be a good idea to send out regular anonymous surveys so that staff feel they can be open and honest about concerns, queries, or letting you know how they’re feeling.
Consider Discounting Products or Services
Remember that others are struggling too. Most people’s disposable income has significantly reduced, so people are likely to be more reluctant to spend money on non-essential items. If you want your company to stay afloat, you may have to consider discounting products or services. Sure, this will reduce your profit margin. But at the end of the day, it will help you to still generate some profit, which is better than nothing.
These are just a few suggestions. Times are bound to be a little hard right now, but this whole situation should pass soon enough. Hopefully, the above advice will help you to generate as large an income as possible in the time being! If you’re feeling overwhelmed or deeply troubled, remember that you’re not alone. Many others are in the same boat. There’s plenty of help and support out there, so make the most of it and don’t be afraid to reach out to helplines, support groups, a doctor or anyone else!