These are worrying times for small businesses. Our government has taken the unprecedented step of closing schools and childcare facilities, making it impossible for many people with children to work normally.

Transport networks are operating as usual for now. However, if (as expected) the rate of coronavirus infection increases rapidly over the coming weeks there will inevitably be disruption to bus and train services, further reducing the number of people able to make it into their place of work.

This is all before we even take into account those workers who will contract the virus themselves or live in a household with someone exhibiting the symptoms.

The exact number of employees who will be required to self-isolate for the prescribed 14 day period is yet to become clear, but it could easily run into hundreds of thousands. Those with an underlying medical condition will be required to confine themselves for much longer.

Small businesses will be particularly hard hit if the spread of this virus in Ireland follows the pattern of Italy and other European countries. For now the official advice is to carry on going to work unless you are experiencing any of the coronavirus symptoms.

Employees who can are advised to work from home, although for some small enterprises that is not an option. In addition, small firms often operate on tight margins where even a short period of inactivity could have serious implications for cash flow.

Working from home requires discipline. Contrary to what some people believe, home workers don’t spend all day sitting in front of the TV in their pyjamas watching chat shows – they have the same demands in terms of deadlines and productivity as those who work in a large office.

Motivation can be an issue. However, giving yourself a small reward for completing a task or project can be a good way of getting past the temptation to put off doing a piece of work. There is also merit in tackling the least appealing tasks first rather than leaving them to the end of the day when enthusiasm may be waning.

The good news is that working from home doesn’t mean compromising on the financial management of your business. Big Red Cloud customers can continue to access their accounts even if they are unable to travel to their office or place of business.

Our cloud-based is also highly collaborative, which will be important for staff who cannot get to the office for whatever reason. Remote workers can access accounting systems and CRM in real-time with the same control over access as office based technology and with no compromise on privacy restrictions for sensitive information.

Cloud-based solutions such as Big Red Cloud offer a secure and reliable infrastructure for office based and remote workers alike.

During this difficult period it is vital we all do our bit to stay safe and help our colleagues do likewise. If we can make the most of working from home we will all be in better shape when business finally returns to normal.