We\u2019re hoping that we\u2019re not going to have to furlough. We\u2019re very fortunate in that we are still doing a lot of orders. However, the current uncertainty means that could all change overnight. To that end we\u2019ve got a plan in place. We hope we don\u2019t have to use it but if we do it\u2019s because we want to ensure staff have jobs to come back to.\r\n\r\nIn terms of accessing the funds, the process looks very simple. It\u2019s based on the PAYE system and will be administered online via a dedicated portal, soon to be launched. For anyone who\u2019d like extra guidance, I\u2019d recommend signing up to a HR subscription service where you can access advice at a fixed rate.\r\n\r\nThe complication with furloughing though is ensuring a strategic and empathetic approach, in order to protect the business in both the long and short term.\r\nA strategic approach\r\nMy recommendation is to base your plan on forecasted cash flow. For us, by forecasting the number of orders, we can work out the resources needed in each department. Things are so fast moving that we need to forecast on a weekly basis, but by forecasting labour and the need for resources you can make a logical decision.\r\n\r\nBe prepared to implement furlough in waves, reducing resources in line with the needs of the business.\r\n\r\nWhen it comes to who, I\u2019d recommend a two-tier approach. Firstly ask for volunteers, as finding willing people will help manage the process positively. Some employees will welcome the opportunity for health or childcare issues. Secondly, if you do not have enough volunteers, it\u2019s time to look at the people whose work has disappeared or who can\u2019t work from home.\r\n\r\nIn most businesses your ultimate decision will be based on the skills needed, and ensuring you have the right mix to service demand.\r\n\r\nFurloughing is a brand new concept and there are no precedents to guide best practice. As a result, businesses should deal with furloughing in a similar way to redundancy to avoid the potential for any claims in the future. Be very careful to document your decision making process, as it\u2019s essential to keep a record showing why you\u2019re doing it and how you\u2019re communicating the decision. Additionally, seek advice from a solicitor with HR expertise - the Law Society has a useful database. Investing now will help future-proof this process.\r\nTreating staff with respect\r\nWhen you make the decision to furlough staff, you must communicate with empathy. Clearly explain to everyone why you\u2019re taking this decision and get them to look at the bigger picture with you. You\u2019re making this decision to protect their jobs for the future. It\u2019s likely that managers will understand but less senior employees may not have the insight needed to see the wider context. For this reason, make yourself available to all staff members, whether they\u2019ve been furloughed or not.\r\n\r\nTo make sure we treat all staff with empathy, manage communication through your heads of departments, who have close, personal relationships with their team. Get them to deliver the news on a one-to-one basis, telling furloughed staff ahead of their colleagues, and ringfence time to make them available for follow up questions, either by email or on their phones. It is important that these heads let furloughed staff know that they can speak to your HR team at any point, and that they share a clear timeline on when the situation will be reviewed.\r\n\r\nKeeping furloughed staff engaged will be very hard. Just do all you can to keep lines of communication open.\r\n\r\nManaging the remaining workforce will also require skill. Some will be very worried that they will be furloughed in a further wave, while others may feel they\u2019ve now got too much work to do. That\u2019s why we will only furlough if we really have to, and we will use a cashflow forecast to make the decision for us.\r\nManaging as a leader\r\nThe issue of whether to furlough is very stressful. I\u2019m struggling to come up with answers because the situation is unprecedented. Usually I find business decisions very black and white but this is a real grey area.\r\n\r\nI talk to other CEOs in my network to canvas their opinion and use LinkedIn to follow the news from big brands and see what larger companies are doing. My ultimate view though is that furloughing is there to help the whole business community, and provides a way of cutting costs to give you the best opportunity to survive. It\u2019s a positive step, it just needs to be positively implemented.