Q&A library

What measures can I take to protect myself financially?
Questioned by Kiran jadhav, Maharashtra
Investment is one among the many options to be financially stable. The article published on The Economic Times on Jul 23, 2020 states different ways to invest the money. While selecting an investment avenue, you have to match your own risk profile with the associated risks of the product. There are two buckets that investment products fall into and they are financial and non-financial assets. Financial assets can be divided into market-linked products (like stocks and mutual fund) and fixed income products (like Public Provident Fund, bank fixed deposits).The non-financial assets are physical gold, real estate, etc. The other few ways that you can implement is, to keep a track of your spending. Start identifying your wants and needs. When you are running short of money, it would be great if you can spend only on the items or services which are absolutely necessary. Have some of your pay check directly deposited into your savings account or set up an automatic transfer each month from your checking to your savings account so that you can save some amount regularly.

Organized retailers like Reliance, Amazon etc. are entering into retail industry. How this is going to impact small retail shops and what can we do to improve small retail shop business?
Questioned by Sajith Kumar
Retailing is a certain set of activities / steps used to sell a product or service to consumers for their personal or family use. The key aspects of retailing are direct customer interaction, small unit size of sales, point-of-sale promotions, criticality of location, and emphasis on customer service. Small retail shops are still preferred by the Indian customers as they are more convenient and easy to approach. However, small retail shops in India may focus more on maintaining hygienic conditions in their outlets. Customers will visit those shops where the quality and the range of merchandise is assured. By giving wide range of product assortment, small retail shops can target those customers who were loyal to them. Additionally, special promotional activities like point-of-sale for promoting impulse products, premium offers, free gifts, bigger packs, stop and shop etc. may be started by small retail shops. Small retail shops need to extend more credit to attract and retain customers. They can ensure better credit availability from banks and NBFCs through innovative marketing solutions. Credit facility creates strong relationship between customer and shopkeeper. The lower - lower class, lower -upper class, and also the lower - middle class are the beneficiaries of this facility. Many customers prefer the flexibility that small shops provide to make decisions on line of credit or variable pricing during the buying exercise in real time which most big outlets cannot do. So this may be of advantage as well.

What are the penalties, if any, for unsafe workplaces?
Questioned by Sajith Kumar, Kerala
Ministry of Home Affairs in India has not explicitly mentioned any penalties, however there are series of guidelines ( available on the ministry's official website) for workplaces that are meant to be incorporated and practised by each organization.

Who is responsible for ensuring Covid compliance at the workplace?
Questioned by Sajith Kumar, Kerala
The question is very valid but answer is a bit tricky as there can't be one single person or department that owns Covid compliance, it has to be a collective effort and every one in the organisation is responsible. If specifically asked, it will be the Administration/facilities management or the Safety department who usually would devise the safety guidelines and see to it's execution with the help of sanitisation experts or specialized companies that can be onboarded for this purpose. However besides the organization and accountable functions within, this is also a big responsibility in the hands of the employees themselves - each employee should be aware of the guidelines and safety practices and is also individually responsible for following those. For e.g. social distancing, wearing a mask at all times, washing/sanitizing hands frequently etc. These are all things that individuals should also strictly follow for their own safety and that of others too

Are businesses required to post information about how they are operating?
Questioned by Sajith Kumar, Kerala
While there is no government mandate to do so, communication about safe operations and precautions taken by the business, to the society, employees, clients and vendors will add to the credibility of the business and instil confidence among the stakeholders. This is a big positive to have in these times.

Can vehicles be allow to enter/exit at any time from office premises/Shops for supplies or pickups?
Questioned by Sajith Kumar
It’s preferably good to follow specific time to deliver supplies or pick up goods. Maintaining social distancing and avoid surface transmission when goods enter and leave the vehicle, especially in high volume situations, for example distribution centres, despatch areas. Determining if schedules can be revised to reduce interaction and overlap between people. For instance, when drivers arrive at depots, collection and delivery times and break times. Ensuring delivery and receipt confirmation can be made contactless and avoiding physical contact when handing goods over to the customer.Preparing for goods to be dropped off to a previously agreed area to avoid transmission, for example, taking advantage of click and collect type arrangements. Holding back the number of people in the vehicle to a minimum and as distanced within the vehicle space as possible, and using other safety criteria such as ensuring good ventilation. Maintaining a record of all visitors, if this is practical. Also the people commuting to office can be done in splitting time.

Do business working hours need to be modified?
Questioned by Sajith Kumar
It would be more beneficial to change the working hours to control gathering and clearing the uncontrollable condition. Currently the altered timings are applicable only for hotspot, containment zone, and lockdown areas only. The working hours for business establishments and organisations are entirely different. The state government ensues notification on working hours depending on zones that are in containment areas and hotspots, while business establishments are permitted to work from 7 am to 11 am, it was suggested to offer the work from home option for other business entities and limit to 50% staff to ensure social distancing norms and contain the spread of the virus.

Do we need to do any physical modification at our workplaces as an act of prevention?
Questioned by Sajith Kumar
In the Q & A session of WHO on 26th June 2020 it was stated that measures to prevent transmission of COVID-19 that apply to all workplaces and all people at the workplace include frequent hand-washing or disinfection with alcohol based hand sanitizer, respiratory hygiene such as covering coughs, physical distancing of at least 1 metre or more according to the national recommendations, wearing of masks where distancing is not possible, regular environmental cleaning and disinfection, and limiting unnecessary travel. Clear policies and messages, training, and education for staff and managers to increase awareness of COVID-19 are essential. The management of people with COVID-19 or their contacts is also critical e.g. requiring workers who are unwell or who develop symptoms to stay at home, self-isolate and contact a medical professional or the local COVID-19 information line for advice on testing and referral.Relevant physical modifications may include the installation or reconfiguration of:• Physical barriers between workstations, or between employees and customers (e.g., plastic barriers or dividers in previously open workspaces);• Compulsory wearing of masks inside the office space• Signage delineating permissible use of spaces (e.g., partitioning conference rooms, cafeterias, break areas, and workspaces consistent with social distancing);• Physical markers in high traffic areas to keep employees six feet apart;• Contactless systems for entry, garbage disposal, or personal hygiene (e.g., faucets and dispensers);• Portions of restrooms to create adequate distance between individuals; and• High-efficiency filters to increase ventilation rates in the workplace.In addition, employers should consider implementing rules regarding shared spaces and equipment, including restricting the sharing of equipment (e.g. phones, headsets, desks, and computers) and appliances (e.g. refrigerators, microwaves, coffee machines).

What logistical considerations should businesses take on the physical return of its workforce?
Questioned by Sajith Kumar, Kerala
For logistics planning, especially for companies less than 500 people or more than 4000 people - the cost of getting a Covid-19 compliant sanitised mode of travel may pose a challenge. It is very likely that most of the organisations will continue work from home for several months till better normalcy is restored ( example: Google, Amazon have already mentioned that they have no plans to re-start physical work spaces any time before Jan 2021) . For companies where work from home is not possible, encouraging safe personal travel and Covid-19 compliant sanitised travel for office vehicles and logistics service providers is a must.

Is there any single window available to clarify all related doubts on re-opening and further operations
Questioned by Sajith Kumar
At the moment there is no official government portal available which would clarify the doubts related to reopening and further operations. However this website shared here https://www.investindia.gov.in. does give some insight. Sharing the excerpts “The Invest India business platform provides real time information to help businesses and investors get real time updates in the active response to Covid-19. This dynamic and constantly updating platform keeps a regular track on developments in the control of virus, latest information on various central and state government initiatives. All queries will be answered through email or WhatsApp.” Apart from this, Economic Times business magazine website does provide all the critical information pertaining to business, financial, Stock and Share Market etc.

#RestartIndia Response Network
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