Coronavirus Impacts on Landscape Construction

Homme à l'ordinateur voyant une mise à jour du coronavirusOn March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared coronavirus disease (COVID-19) a pandemic. In North America, governments are taking extreme measures to flatten the curve. Therefore, you must prepare your business for the inevitable impact of coronavirus on construction and landscaping.

Keeping Employees Safe 

Openly communicate your plans and policies with your employees so that they know what to expect. Fear of the unknown is at an all-time high right now. Therefore, employers should be proactive about creating a plan and communicating that plan to employees ASAP. If you haven’t sent an email to employees about how the company intends to handle COVID-19, now is the time.

Here are some solutions you can implement immediately:
  1. Enact a work from home policy.
  2. Encourage video chat meetings over in-person meetings.
  3. Cancel or postpone all non-essential business travel.
  4. Provide employees with links to resources on how to take care of their mental and physical well-being during this time.
  5. Make sure all employees displaying cold or flu symptoms stay at home.
  6. Outline the preventative measures you are taking at the office, if working from home is not an option:
    • maintaining 6 feet between employees
    • offering hand sanitizer to employees
    • increasing the cleaning of all spaces
    • ensuring that employees who’ve recently travelled self-isolate at home

Ongoing and Delayed Projects

While there’s not much you can do about cancellations, here’s how you can increase your cash flow:
  1. Provide a discount to clients who pay upfront for future projects.
  2. Cut costs by delaying hiring, marketing expenses, office renovations, etc.
  3. Call your suppliers to postpone payables. They’re likely to understand the situation and may be able to come up with a payment plan for you.
  4. To avoid layoffs, consider negotiating pay cuts with your full-time staff for a few months.
  5. If layoffs are necessary, or if you have employees that are temporarily out of work, provide them with the information and documents needed to apply for EI benefits or unemployment benefits.
If you need to complete a current project, we recommend implementing these safety precautions: 
  1. Minimize staff so that they can keep a 6 feet distance between each other.
  2. Set up a hand-washing station and ask all employees to wash their hands every 30 minutes.
  3. Don’t let anyone work without an N95 respirator mask.
  4. Provide employees with personal thermometers to check their temperature every morning. They should also monitor their health throughout the day.
  5. Send home any employee displaying symptoms of a cold or flu immediately.

Keep your clients informed about the measures you’re taking against COVID-19 and how the pandemic might affect your work. Send an email to your customers, just like the one you sent out to your employees.

If you’re worried about completing a project with strict deadlines, you may be able to claim the “Force Majeure” clause. You can use this in the event that you need to stop or delay work. Keep track of all the efforts you are making to keep the project on schedule. This will be proof that the stoppage or delay was out of your control.

Supply Chain Disruptions

As you’re probably already aware, many plant suppliers rely on foreign workers programs with countries like Mexico. This helps them with various tasks, such as digging, planting, harvesting, shipping, etc. North American leaders are shutting down their borders to foreigners. Therefore, many businesses are suddenly understaffed and unable to continue their operations as usual.

Some plant nurseries are using local labour to fill in the gap. Others are shutting down altogether for the safety of their employees. To avoid any surprises, you should contact your plant suppliers to see exactly how COVID-19 is affecting them. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can search for alternatives for your plant supply needs.

Remember, we must work together to minimize the Coronavirus impact on businesses as much as possible. Make sure to reach out for help and provide your employees and community with unwavering support during these trying times.

Here are some helpful resources to check out.

1. Landscape Association Resources:
National Association of Landscape Professionals
Florida Nurseries, Growers & Landscape Association
New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association
Landscape Ontario

2. Government Aid & Resources:
Support for Canadians & Businesses
Coronavirus Disease Benefits & Services
United States
Small Business Administration – Coronavirus Guidance & Loan Resources
Response to Coronavirus

3. Business-Related Resources:
Business Implications
Effective Leadership in Response to the Coronavirus & for Future Challenges
Communicating with External Audiences
Managing Temporary Foreign Workers

4. Daily Updates – The Number & Spread of COVID-19 Cases:
Canada – COVID-19
United States – COVID-19

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