Tackling COVID-19 as a Small Business

During these crazy times, it’s understandable to have anxiety around keeping your small business up and running. We here at Avant8, want to help diminish that anxiety so that during this time you feel prepared for anything and can continue running your successful business.

Working From Home (WFH)

  • While working from home is not an option for everyone, there are still many companies that can. This can be a difficult adjustment for those who have never worked from home and are used to a certain routine. Keep in mind that this is an adjustment for all of your team. If you work for a small business that has been given the task to work remotely, here are a few tips to help you through this uncertain time.
  • The Technology Front - So, you are able to work from home? It’s likely that you have a technology-based position. You are definitely one of the lucky ones. In order to work properly and efficiently, tech needs to be at the forefront.
    • Make sure you have all the physical technology in order. If you have a work laptop, make sure you’ve brought it home! This also includes bringing a keyboard, mouse, or any other accessories that will make your job easier from home.
    • Software is another important one. Depending on what your job is, software could be make or break. Make sure you have access to what you need to be successful.
    • Internet access! Generally, our day-to-day lives depend on some type of internet access. During this time of uncertainty, most internet providers are committed to keep you up and running.
  • Home place turned workplace - The place you once called a sanctuary is now a place you have to call a workplace. There will likely be distractions of all types and the adjustment period may never end. Do you have kids? A spouse? These things are generally not at your place of work. How do you metaphorically separate your home from work?
    • A workspace is of the highest importance. Find a room, corner, or area that you can turn into your home office. Finding a space of your own will assist you in being a successful employee from home.
    • What about those kids you love so much? It’s likely they have begun a “summer” mind set. With school closures, their online classes are different, and their time is spent differently. Everything is just different. If you have young kids, entertainment and educational activities could be of assistance.
    • Do you have a quarantine partner? Lucky you! Or maybe unlucky. It’s likely that you will both get on each other’s nerves once … or twice. A schedule could assist with this. Keeping a somewhat normal schedule during your work week may assist you and your quarantine partner. Stay in different rooms when you would be at work, eat lunch separately, and “come home” at the same time you would during a normal workday.
  • You, you, you - You are not going to work the same at home as you do in the field. The world is uncertain and working from home can cause some discomfort. It’s okay. Communication with your managers and co-workers is key to getting a small business through a time like this.
    • Manage your expectations for yourself and what you are really able to do while working from home. Speak with your managers to see what is absolutely necessary and what may be able to sit on the backburner.
    • We all have weaknesses. Know yours! For example, some people can work through anything. In college, this writer would watch movies while writing lengthy reports on feminist theory. But there are people that need peace and quiet while working. If you have a weakness, do your best to keep it at a distance to assist the business you work for.
    • Stay connected! This is important during social distancing. Keeping connected with co-workers and managers through webcam conferencing may be helpful. Here at Avant8, we use Slack and Uberconference to keep connected for work-related purposes as well as nonwork-related purposes.

Supporting Local Businesses

You may be thinking, “that’s great and all, but what about those who can’t work from home?” There are millions of people that have lost their jobs because they are not able to work from home. The number of people that have applied for unemployment rises every day in the U.S.
Through this tragic time, there are ways to help those around you keep their small businesses alive.

Supporting local businesses is a huge way to assist these people. Most local businesses have been forced to close to assist in stopping the spread of the COVID-19. But, not all of these businesses are closed-closed. Local and global eateries are still open for business, but, in a different way. No-contact deliver is available at some places as well as drive-thru options. This is a great way to continue supporting small businesses through this tough time as well as providing a consistency with your regular life. Go pick up dinner for a date night or have a pizza party with your family!

There are also local retail stores that are hurting as well. There may be some that have opted to be an online retailer for the time being. Purchasing something online could contribute to their business. Calling and purchasing a gift card may also assist your favorite clothing, beauty, or any other type of shop in getting through this tough time. Donating to any other type of small business is sure to help them keep up their hard work to keep employees and their business intact. Support local businesses and they may support your small business as well. We need to stick together!

But wait, there is more

Here are some more points to consider for your small business during the pandemic.

  • Plan for the long term. There is no way of knowing the length of our current situation. Planning for it may assist in stress management.
  • Communicate with your customers. This is key to keeping your small business alive. Be transparent with your customers on what you are able to do and what you are not. This also applies to your employees.
  • Upskill your staff. Keeping your staff motivated and engaged may be difficult during this time. Perhaps teaching a webcam class on a new skill could assist in engaging staff and motivate them.
  • Feedback is important during this time as well. The type of feedback you provide is important. It’s likely that most of your staff has never worked from home and needs a different type of feedback than in the office. Ask your staff for feedback on the type of feedback that would be most helpful to them.

Government Resources

There are other resources that have been put into place to assist small businesses, specifically. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has put together a list of resources that could potentially help you and your small business. This list includes directions and information on Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Loan Advance, SBA Debt Relief, SBA Express Bridge Loans, Guidance for Businesses and Employers, SBA Products and Resources, Government Contracting and local assistance. There are acts in place to help small businesses and there are people out there that want to help. Don’t give up on your business!

Now what?

This is an uncertain time for everyone and everyone’s small businesses. Hopefully these tips and tricks will help your small business succeed, or at least keep your head above water during this time. The most important thing is to stick together and help each other as much as we can.

Home office setup

On Wednesdays we work from home

It’s no secret that everything is a little crazy right now. The COVID-19 virus has everyone who can be working from home.

Here at Avant8, we were unexpectedly prepared for this. Under normal circumstances we have work-from-home-Wednesdays. The name is pretty self-explanatory. Our full-time employees can opt to work from home on Wednesdays. This initiative was originally created to show trust in the team, but also to throw a bone for those of us who have to commute from Utah County.

However, going from doing this only once a week to every day still requires some getting used to. To better understand that adjustment and how everyone is feeling about it, I asked the rest of our team to share their thoughts of their home office setups, what they’ve found works and what doesn’t. We also shared some pictures of our workspaces. The idea is to show that we’re all in this together, to reassure you that you aren’t the only one missing the office (and maybe you’ll get some home office ideas in the process).

Here’s what the Avant8 team had to say:

Tasha (Project Manager)

home office set up

“This gaming table is big enough that my husband on the other side has his own space to work in. Behind me are a myriad of board games.

Since I was a kid my family loved playing board games for critical thinking, resource management, puzzle-solving, and those qualities followed me into adulthood. Sitting at my game table helps me get ready to sit down and get it done. This is the space I feel most productive, to think critically, to feel creative conduction, and allow my brain to run wild in working around the puzzles my work offers me as a Project Manager at a marketing company. I’m focused here and can be for hours. And… striking up a game of Dungeons and Dragons would be easy with my big box of D and D dice in the middle of the table.”

Brad (Project Manager)

Home office set up

“My desk is a plastic Costco desk ($99) good for family stuff as well, but currently my working desk. My home office is upstairs in our master bedroom, it is the quietest place in my house, has the most sunlight, and a lock on the door so my children can't interrupt. I would love to have a second monitor, but that is just a want, not a need. I wouldn't mind a mini-fridge to have my Monsters stored and accessible without leaving my desk.

I love not having a commute (even though I don't really mind the drive), I love at times how quiet it is (except when my kids are here screaming bloody murder in the background). I enjoy having my stuff around me all the time (the comfort of my own home). My internet is great, I love that as well. I miss the social interaction that you get at work. I like being around people and feeding off their energy. I miss laughing as a group and joking around. I've gained a huge appreciation for my wife who takes care of my children every day and works on top of that. Blows my mind how she does it.”

Marla (Office Manager)

Home office setup“My current situation is my living room couch. I had plans to clean out my office, but this surprise ‘quarantine’ halted that. I have to be near my children so that I can help with schoolwork. The past few weekends I have been trying to clean out a few boxes to make room for me at my desk. Things would be easier with my second monitor and peace and quiet… but I have a 6 and 4-year-old. I have made structured time for schoolwork and free time, they also know that when my headphones are on, they are silent and do not bug me unless it’s an emergency, such as another earthquake or fire and/or blood. Since I am not really needed to sit at my computer all the time, I get up and make lunch and snacks, homeschool my 6-year-old and stretch and walk up and down my stairs, so my bum  does not go numb.”

Jordan (Web Developer)

Home office setup“I have a separate room that has my office desk. My wife's arts and crafts are all around the space I'm not occupying. Things that could be improved are curtains to go alongside the blinds, so I don't get glare when I'm working. Aside from that, sometimes I wish I had speakers set up, so I don’t have to wear a headset all the time if I want to listen to music.”

Hamza (Web Developer)

Home office setup“I'm really fond of a clean desk and do everything I can to keep it well-maintained on a day-to-day basis while still giving it features to feel like it's my workstation. Feels more personal and I have more of an attachment to the set-up I use regularly at home through it.

“A trick (if you can really call it that) that I've found works well for me is generally just never breaking routine. Shower, change into clothes that you'd wear into the office, etc. It might not be that way for everyone that way but personally, it convinces me that it's time for work.

“I work right from my bedroom since I don't have another room to set-up specifically for work. It works pretty perfectly for me and I tend to find myself being surprisingly more productive at times since I'm also used to studying at my home workstation.”

Robby (Designer)

Home office setup“My home workspace is minimal. My little Ikea desk is right below a window, so I get some natural light, even on these grey days.

“My desk is in the corner of my apartment. I don't have a way to connect my laptop to a larger monitor.

“I like that I can dress comfortable and lazy, and I can wrap up in a blanket. Though I can appreciate solitude, I still like being able to talk to coworkers.”

Steve (Designer)

Home office setup“I have a big desk that is really a table. I like it because it gives me enough space to do any number of projects: draw, sew, work on my computer.

“I miss being around other big people. All the people in my house are little!”

Tedd (Digital Marketing Specialist)

Home office setup“My desk is a chair I set my laptop on, or sometimes it's just my laptop.  I work on a chair in my living room next to windows where there is plenty of light.  I enjoy close proximity to the kitchen to grab a snack or lunch easily.

“Working from home all the time feels weird, so I try and stay off the computer after work hours so that I don't get too burned out from being on a computer all day.  One way I cope with the cabin fever of staying at home all the time is by going on walks outdoors during breaks or small hikes on the weekends.

“What I miss the most about working in the office is having an extra monitor to use two screens at once and my standing desk”

Chris (SEO Strategist)

“My desk is in my room. One pro is that I like being able to listen to loud music whenever I want, but one con is that my chair is not good for long term computer work. A workaround that I found is folding a pillow and using it for lower back support to reduce back pain. I chose this location because I have some fun wall art in there

“The biggest two things I miss about going into the office are being around other people and separating my workspace from my home/relaxation space.”

Maddy (Content Lead)

Home office setup“I've always loved having a few plants on my desk, but I'm really loving sprouting seeds in the window of my ‘home office’ (aka the kitchen). They only take a few days to a week to sprout so they're very satisfying to keep up with. When I get stuck on a work project, it’s nice to grab whatever is sprouting and spend a few minutes potting it. By the time I wash the dirt off my hand, I’ve figured out a solution to the problem and I’m excited to tackle it.  Plus, my lettuce is growing like gangbusters already.”

Kara (Content Writer)

“I work in my kitchen on the counter, because I don't have a desk! That is something I will be investing in the future. I prefer this to sitting on a couch or a bed so that when my work is done, I don't feel the anxiety of ‘I should be working right now’.

“I've enjoyed working from home (it's one of my goals in life to work 100% remotely). Not that I don't enjoy the presence of my co-workers! I just seem to work better in this type of environment. I do miss leaving my house, but, who doesn't?! I also miss having a routine. My cat has been keeping me great company though!”

Katie (Content Writer and author of this blog)

Home office setupAgainst all advice, my setup changes. We have an “office” in my house (a spare room with a desk, monitor, printer and spin bike), but it is a shared space. Since I’m the only person in the house with a desk in my bedroom, I’m more than willing to give the office up to work in my room when someone else needs the space. So, some days I’m working with an extra monitor, others I have to clear off my cluttered desk to make room for my laptop (as you can see pictured).

In either case, I’m able to work in a nice,  quiet space. That is a blessing and a curse. While I can focus on my work a little bit better, I do miss bouncing ideas off my fellow content writers.

I have two pieces of advice for working from home. They’ve both been mentioned by other members of the team before, but I don’t think they can be said enough. The first, if you can: invest in an ergonomic chair. The second: take walks, outside if possible. It helps break the monotony.

General consensus

Working from home can be kind of a mixed bag. But here are the overall takeaways I got from this mini-research project:

What we miss:

  • Double monitors. Avant8 may have spoiled us. Most of us (myself included) are missing having the big separate monitors we normally use for work. Unfortunately, unless we’re willing to invest in one, many will continue to go without until we can get back to the office.
  • Working around other (grown-up) people. The Avant8 office is open-concept, making the social interaction with each other pretty constant. So, it’s not surprising that so many of us are missing working with other people. Some of us do have children at home, but as much as we love them, it’s not the same.

Advice we have:

  • Having your own space to work. There are a few who either don’t mind sharing their space or have to. But for a lot of us, being able to close ourselves off to work is a requirement. It also helps to have a nice clear space.
  • Keeping work and relaxation separate. Many members of our team try to have their home office desk be as separate from their relaxation space. This is a great way to keep those home and work feelings separate.
  • Combining work and hobbies. Whether it’s gardening or board games, our team has been finding ways of keeping the home office from getting stale between emails.
  • Keep moving. Many of us have been taking walks when we can. Personally, I just take a little walk around my block. I’m gone for less than a couple of minutes and it gets me away from a screen.

None of this is permanent, but it’s still our reality for now. If you’re feeling a little down as a result of working from home, reach out to your coworkers. I know this whole experience of writing this blog has been cathartic to me, being validated in knowing that I’m not the only one getting a little stir-crazy.

Employee Spotlight: CEO Ross McGarvey

Every Monday we spotlight one of our stellar employees (this week employer) with 20 Questions. Here’s how our CEO Ross answered his:

  1. What drew you to working at a marketing agency? - Total accident!
  2. Favorite thing about Salt Lake City? - Tacos Garay
  3. What’s your favorite 80s movie? - Tron
  4. Android or iPhone? - iPhone
  5. Where did you grow up? - Scotland
  6. Who inspires you? - My Mum
  7. What’s your favorite dessert? - Pavlova
  8. Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer? - Autumn ;)
  9. Han Solo or Indiana Jones? - Indiana Jones
  10. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? - Dragonlance/Ready Player One ...
  11. Pick any superpower that you’d love to have. - Time travel
  12. How many countries have you visited? - 20
  13. Llamas or Alpacas? - Alpaca Llama for my trip ...
  14. Favorite show to binge-watch? - Chuck
  15. What is your biggest accomplishment? - Having Kids
  16. Which celebrity do you want to meet the most? - Met him already - Kurt Russell
  17. How many siblings do you have? - 2
  18. Ski or snowboard or neither? - Snowboard
  19. Do you have a favorite color? - Black
  20. What is your favorite quote and why? -  “Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken!” - Tyler Durden


Which Superhero are You?!

If you've read our 'About' page, you know we're big fans of superheroes. We even have superheroes set as our profile pictures in the Slack app! After all, who hasn't wanted to have superpowers right?!  Take our quiz below to see if you're more of a Batman, Thor, Wonder Woman, Hulk, Superman, Spiderman, or Black Widow!

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Check Out Our Ultimate Star Wars Trivia Quiz

Here at Avant8...saying that we're Star Wars fans is a massive understatement. So for all of you who love the space saga as much as we do, we've created this ultimate trivia quiz. Test your knowledge and prove that you live and breathe Star Wars!

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Which 80s Movie Leading Man Are You?

The 80s are really just the best decade to ever occur. Period.

With that being said, we say nothing's better than an 80s movie. Here's an homage to our favorite leading fellas. Take our quiz below and find out which guy fits your personality!

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Virgin Airlines Goes Back To The Future

October 21st 2015.

The iconic date that Marty McFly travels forward through time to, in the second installment of the legendary Back To The Future Trilogy. For years fans have been fascinated by the 1989 version of modern day life and now we get the opportunity to compare the 80’s interpretation with the facts of 2015. But how does it measure up? We have drones, communicate by video conference and definitely have too many films in movie franchises (no Jaws 19 but we’re get close with The Fast & The Furious). However, we’re still deprived of hover boards, flying cars and self lacing sneakers. Actually, we’re close getting pretty close on the self lacing sneaks – keep up the good work Nike!

Tragically, 2015 is not how it was presented to us by Doc Brown and the gang (unless you’re a Cubs fan), but we do get the chance to celebrate that greatest of days, October 21st, which is a perfect excuse to re-watch movies that the world will not doubt love until 3015.

As a marketing agency, we had all kinds of creative ideas as to how to celebrate the occasion (check out our bottle of Pepsi perfect here), but we decided to stick with what we know best and put together a campaign. We chose to feature Virgin Airlines because they embody many things that we respect – constantly pushing boundaries, providing a new outlook on an otherwise stale industry, outstanding customer service and almost unrivaled success that came from humble beginnings. Virgin, we salute you!

To the man that made Virgin Airlines happen, Sir Richard Branson, we love your hustle, your self belief and your work ethic, so we figured we’d save you some time and take care of your next campaign for you. Take Wednesday off and get some BTTF going on Necker Island…

Enjoy. We certainly enjoyed putting it together.