In light of recent developments with regards to the Coronavirus, or more specifically, Covid-19, we felt it may be of some assistance to provide some thoughts on how to prepare your business for a continuity planning stage which may be needed in the coming weeks.
Unfortunately, the UK Government have provided very few details regarding when the threat of outbreak will subside or even what plans to expect in the next few days, weeks or months.
As a business, you may have already stocked up on hand sanitiser (and loo roll!) and provided staff with advice on how to reduce risks when it comes to Covid-19, but what else can you do if the UK moves into the next stages of handling this pandemic and follows other countries suit when it comes to a lockdown?
Your business may have contingency plans in place which are designed to deal with similar threats or issues, perhaps a flu outbreak or pandemic. If so, you plan may need some tweaking to deal with the specifics of Covid-19 however, the basic premise will be the same.
If you don’t have a plan in place, we’ve put some thoughts together on how you might want to move forward.
- Develop a team or assign an individual to deal with planning and preparing the business for such eventualities. This team will deal with budgets, consult with suppliers and clients, establish triggers and procedures for implementing a business continuity plan.
- Next comes business issues that may arise. This includes considering the impact of employee illness or absences, impact of disruption to supply/demand for your business. Consider the impact of Covid-19 on your market and your clients’ needs and expectations. At this point there should be a consideration, where possible for remote working, a consideration if face to face meetings are required or where these can be postponed/carried out via Skype etc for a reduction of community transmission of Covid-19. Finally, consider the circumstances when you may look to reduce or suspend your business operations due to this outbreak.
- Now you have to look at measures which will underpin your contingency planning. You may have to identify alternative sources of labour for your business (depending on the sector and what service/product you offer), communicate with your staff in an appropriate manner, consider policies for sick leave and also compassionate leave during the outbreak. Where applicable, put policies in place regarding foreign travel during Covid-19. Consider the possibility of changes to the supply of products/services/interactions with clients and how your business will deal with this. Review and understand your insurance coverage.
- It is essential to consider workplace risks and hygiene during a pandemic. Here are a couple of things to ensure you’re covering. Always adhere to hand hygiene policy and respiratory etiquette (covering mouth when you cough or sneeze), provide your workplace with appropriate products for hand washing, tissue disposal, hand hygiene and other relevant facilities. Ensure frequent and effective cleaning schedules are in place. Prepare to plan for those who are infected, or suspected, with Covid-19. Where possible, reduce face to face contact with customers/suppliers/employees from different sites. Prepare flexi-working policies (locations and times). Ensure your ICT infrastructure can support teleworking and remote working
- But above all – COMMUNICATE! When faced with difficult and unknown situations, people want clear and straight forward steps to ensure all eventualities are covered. Good clear communication will reduce panic. Create a clear communications plan that provides employees/suppliers with plans and what will happen during the Covid-19 outbreak.
This list is not exhaustive and there may be a requirement to amend and develop this plan significantly depending on a) the size of your business and b) what service/product your business offers.
The government has provided the following information for businesses which includes information for employers and employees.