COVID-19: Digital Ethos’ Response and Practices
6 min read
In response to the recent outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), it is vital for Digital Ethos to act accordingly to the Government’s guidelines and within the best interests of our team, our clients, the wider community and the country’s economy.
The team at Digital Ethos know that businesses and individuals around the country depend on us for their digital marketing, web design and development, hosting and other vital digital marketing services and as such, have created this blog post in order to keep you informed of the steps we’re taking in response to the virus. We will be adding to this page as and when we receive any updates. Please scroll to the bottom of the article for the most recent updates by date order.
Our absolute number one priority is to our clients and to ensure that their digital strategies, campaigns and business growth see no disruption. I am also prioritising the safety of my staff, ensuring that they stay healthy in order to carry out our services for clients.
Our management team have placed the issue as their opening point on our morning management meetings and are reacting quickly and appropriately to the recommendations from the NHS and government. Please see below the relevant government advice for public health:
Additionally, Digital Ethos’ digital infrastructure is well provisioned to handle this situation. We have not seen and do not anticipate any impact on our delivery performance, reliability, or security. This extends across all existing projects and any new projects planned to start in the next few weeks.
Support For Businesses
In order to support people, businesses and public services during this period of disruption caused by the outbreak of COVID-19, The Chancellor has set out a package of measures, which are explained below with further details.
Job Retention Scheme
All UK businesses and employers will be able to access a Job Retention Scheme that will help continue to pay their employees’ salary who would have otherwise been laid off during this crisis. If businesses are also struggling in terms of cash flow, there is also a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan that is now available.
Deferring Value Added Tax (VAT) and Income Tax Payments
The Government is also defer VAT payments for three months and if you’re self-employed, Income Tax payments due in July 2020 under the Self-Assessment system will be deferred to January 2021.
Legislation is being brought forward to allow small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and employers to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for sickness absence due to COVID-19. Businesses with fewer than 250 employees as of 28th February 2020 are eligible and if an employee has been off work due to the Coronavirus, this refund will cover up to two weeks’ SSP. This scheme is currently being developed and more details will be provided once legislation has passed.
Business Rates Holiday and Cash Grants
For the retail, hospitality and leisure industry, the Government will introduce business rates holiday for the 2020-2021 tax year, which will apply to your next council tax bill.
These industries will also be provided with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property by The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme. For businesses that pay litte or no business rates, they will be eligible for Small Business Grant Scheme funding of up to £10,000 to help meet their ongoing business costs. Again, if your business is eligible for either of these schemes, there is no action to take as your local authority will write to you in due course.
Interruption Loan Scheme
The British Business Bank is soon to launch a temporary Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme in order to support SMEs to access bank lending and overdrafts.
The Government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan (subject to a per-lender cap on claims) to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance to SMEs. The Government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee, and the Scheme will support loans of up to £5 million in value.
This eligibility and process to access this scheme is a little more complicated so make sure you check The British Business Bank’s website for more information. You should also talk to your bank or finance provider as soon as possible to discuss your business plan in order to apply for the scheme as quickly as possible.
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
Under this new facility, the Bank of England will buy short term debt from larger companies during this funding squeeze, allowing businesses to finance short-term liabilities. This will also support corporate finance markets overall and ease the supply of credit to all firms.
This scheme will be available week commencing 23rd March 2020 and more information will be added to gov.uk’s website.
Time To Pay Service
If you’re a business or self-employed and are suffering from financial distress with outstanding tax liabilities, you may be eligible to HMRC’s Time To Pay service, which will help you with your tax affairs. These arrangements are agreed on a case-by-case basis and are tailored to individual circumstances and liabilities. If you need further information or assistance, please call HMRC’s helpline on 0800 0159 559.
Businesses that have insurance covering pandemics or government-ordered closures should be covered as the Government and insurance industry confirmed on 17th March 2020 that advice to avoid pubs, theatres etc is sufficient to make a claim as long as all other terms and conditions are met.
However, all insurance policies are different, so please doiubcle check with your provider. Most businesses are unlikely to be covered, as standard business interruption insurance policies are dependent on damage to property and will exclude pandemics.
Tuesday 17th March 2020
In light of government guidelines that were released on Monday 16th March 2020, we have introduced an internal policy, which has been raised with all the team. This policy includes where to get advice on symptoms, when to stay at home, avoiding close contact and social distancing. It also includes our working from home policy, which will be taking place from Friday 20th March 2020.
Fortunately, as a digital agency, we are in a very lucky and unique position where home/remote working is more than possible. On a daily basis to carry out client work, we use cloud-based software, virtual team-collaboration systems and a network infrastructure, which means that we can support remote working with minimal impact to our output or response times and therefore, your client campaign success and business growth.
This means that we will be able to stay fully operational and communicate internally and externally as normal. As you can imagine, when working with businesses around the country, operating remotely is just something we do anyway so as far as we’re concerned, it’s just business as usual.
Until further notice, any client meetings that were taking place in person will now be moved to Google Hangouts Meet where they can be carried out virtually. If you have one booked, your account manager will be in contact to discuss alternatives, if they haven’t done so already.
The team will also be focusing more time on campaign deliverables than ever before. To support your current account managers, our senior managers are also moving their attention to the day-to-day client campaign deliverables.
This means that we’ll be adding a lot more hours into your campaigns at no extra cost, ensuring the continuation of positive results and business growth. It also means that on the other side of this crisis, your businesses will be in a dominant position against competition that has dropped off or fallen behind.
Wednesday 18th March 2020
The team at Digital Ethos have taken the decision to bring the start day of our remote working forwards and as such, we will be working from home as of Thursday 19th March 2020 as opposed to Friday 20th March 2020. This will be for at least 14 days or until further notice.
As previously mentioned, working remotely will bring no disruption to our client’s communication, deliverables and campaigns. If anyone has any concerns or questions about their services, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the team.
Lastly, thank you for being a Digital Ethos customer. These are challenging times, but we also believe that when there is adversity, there is also opportunity. I want you to know that we stand ready to help however we can and ensure minimum impact on your business. We understand the critical role we play in the functioning of your business and we are continually humbled by the trust you place in us for digital marketing, development, design and hosting.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and any new information or updates will be added to this blog post. In the meantime, If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact any member of our team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0333 772 0189.
Thank you for taking the time to read this message and please take care of yourselves.
Warm regards and best wishes,
Founder and Managing Director