Due to the world’s ever-expanding population and the prevalence of international travel, we have learnt that the worldwide impact of a pandemic is catastrophic. Given the uncertainty of future coronavirus outbreaks and their potentially enormous impact, business planning is essential as businesses need to take steps to prepare themselves.
The first step is to create or update a business continuity plan. It should include preparation and planning for disasters, such as a pandemic, and be integrated into business processes.
When business planning specifically for a pandemic, your business needs are unique, so you’ll need to conduct a risk-management assessment of your own business to ensure continued operation. Here is a sampling of things to review and consider:
- Identify an individual in your organisation who is responsible for all disease planning, monitoring of situations and emergency actions.
- To minimise business disruptions, review how you work with employees, customers, consumers, contractors, media, etc.
- Do you have the infrastructure you need to run your operations with up to 40 per cent of your staff out ill or caring for ill family members?
- Identify essential job duties, operations, work functions, personnel, supply chains and distribution methods. Create or identify backup workers, methods or processes in the event of business interruption.
- Consider building up inventories in case suppliers and transport services are interrupted.
- Keeping people apart to limit the disease’s spread will be crucial in a pandemic situation. Consider supplying employees the equipment and support the need to telework if their jobs allow.
- Develop other strategies for reducing close contact in the workplace, including utilising email, phone and other digital communication methods rather than in-person meetings.
- Consider expanding your online business opportunities.
- Promote awareness of the problems associated with pandemic flu: alert employees about what steps you’re taking and what they can do to limit the pandemic’s impact.
- Develop strategies for communicating with employees, customers, consumers and the media.
- Review sick-leave and pay policies to ensure they don’t discourage workers from staying home when they’re ill. In the event of an pandemic, ill employees should stay home to prevent the spread of disease.
- Make backup plans if you need to pull people out of countries where the epidemic strikes.
- Develop a travel policy that restricts travel to areas where the virus is active.
- Stock up on masks and sanitisers, and consider staggering work hours during pandemic situations to limit the size of gatherings.
Failure to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
Regardless of your company’s size, business continuity planning is a must. Begin crafting a business continuity plan today to avoid potentially catastrophic losses from now on.