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Businesses ready to confront coronavirus outbreak, survey finds

Two-thirds of U.S. business owners are confident their business is prepared to carry on should the coronavirus (COVID-19) become a widespread health issue, according to research from Paychex.

Of the 300 randomly selected owners, 59 percent said they have a continuity plan in place to address potential business disruptions.

“Navigating a rapidly evolving environment such as this can present challenges, but the insights revealed through this initial research are encouraging — the majority of business owners feel prepared,” Martin Mucci, president and CEO of Paychex, said in a news release.

“This is an opportune time for business owners to evaluate response plans for any potential crisis situation,” Mucci said, “including developing a comprehensive business continuity plan, evaluating HR policies related to leave of absence and developing or refining employee and customer communications channels.”

Paychex, through third-party research firm Bredin, polled business owners that had between two and 500 employees. The survey was conducted Feb. 28-29 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.66 percent.

Among the findings:

» The majority (61 percent) said they are somewhat to not at all concerned, while 39 percent said they are very or extremely concerned.

» Just over half (51 percent) said the coronavirus has had no impact on their business. Of those were were impacted, employee concern was mentioned most often (25 percent), followed by business travel delays (16 percent) and supply chain disruptions (13 percent).

» The vast majority of owners said they could both continue operations (83 percent) and withstand a temporary supply chain disruption or delay (84 percent) should the virus become widespread.

» A little over half (54 percent) said they could accommodate either employees working remotely, including from home, if a quarantine were to go into effect. But when looking specifically at the manufacturing sector, 64 percent said working remotely or working from home would not be options.

» If a business pause or shutdown would occur, 75 percent said they have enough cash or credit to survive related interruptions.

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