Claiming hundreds of lives and infecting millions of people worldwide, the coronavirus outbreak is severely affecting businesses. Global shares are taking a big hit, as the FTSE, Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nikkei tumble. The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic has taken the world by storm. We are witnessing cities in lockdown, plant closures mounting, travel restrictions hitting the travel industry negatively, global trade, tourism, commerce, investment, and supply chains in utter disorder.
So, the question is, how prepared is your organization for the evolving impact of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)? Highly prepared, somewhat prepared, or very unprepared?
Gartner recently conducted a poll1 that 50 percent of C-level executives participated in. Survey findings say 54 percent of businesses are somewhat prepared, 11 percent highly prepared, and only 2 percent are quite unprepared.
These figures show businesses are left with no choice but to create a pandemic preparedness framework. But how do you prepare for the ongoing pandemic? How do you ensure you have a program in place that helps you to deal with the after-effects of such crises?
Pandemic Preparedness Checklist
Review Your Business Continuity Plan
You may be prepared for natural disasters and other forms of unplanned disruptions with your business continuity plan (BCP) in place. It is, however, critical to review your plan annually. While you can’t control events, like the recent Coronavirus pandemic, ensure your business continuity plan is up to date. It should be effective enough to mitigate the effects of such potential threats.
As you review your BC plan, assess your response to emergency situations. You should be ready with IT data center disaster recovery plans and processes, and crisis communication. You should have recovery strategies in place. Your answer should be a “yes” to these questions:
- Have you identified and updated all crucial business processes, applications, systems, employees, and resources?
- Does your plan clearly suggest who in your organization are responsible to activate it?
- Is the information in your plan readily accessible? Is it secure enough to be accessed quickly during an emergency?
- Are your employees aware of the alternate processes, like temporary relocation, in case the facility is unavailable?
- Does your BCP encompass all potential interruption risks?
- Does each department in your organization have an emergency call tree and knows whom and how to contact during emergencies?
- Are there any new products, technologies, or services that your BCP needs to address?
- Does your plan reflect updated information on supplier changes?
Remember, business continuity management demands you to conduct regular exercises, drills, and tests. These are crucial to figure out how prepared your BCP team is. Test all manual, backup, and automated processes to ensure their effectiveness.
The more often you plan, review, and drill for a probable crisis or disruption, the less likely are you to have BCP gaps. Besides, you’ll improve the chances for a safe and seamless execution.
Improve Workspace Digitization
In the words of Gartner, if no digital workspace is provided, staff absenteeism exceeds 40 percent for longer and sequential periods. This erupts as a major implication of the ongoing pandemic. Consider implications and tolerance levels for this absenteeism on critical business functions and processes. After all, loss of productivity jeopardizes your business and leads to unimaginable losses.
This is where you need to plan for and create digital workspaces as a part of your digital strategy. Move towards a remote-first strategy as you isolate your employees to minimize risk of COVID-19 spread.
Create a safe, isolated, and productive Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environment for secure remote access to mission-critical apps anytime, anywhere.
Remember Digital Workplace Solutions help to improve your employee productivity by increasing their operational efficiency. Businesses also flourish when they support different individual styles of working.
Transform your workplace by leveraging next-generation technology, applications, tools, and a robust partner network. Digital workplace solutions combine automation, integrated security, artificial intelligence (AI), and analytics to fulfil all your business, employee, and IT requirements. Converged workplace and mobility management solutions enable you to quickly and easily shift between devices. Besides, there is no unobstructed access to information, context, and applications.
It’s vital to extend security beyond your network. Your workforce may be working from home for the first time during a catastrophe. As they access data and virtual apps through their personal devices, careful consideration of security threats is indispensable.
- Extend data and apps to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) securely.
- Conform to compliance standards.
- Implement relevant conditional access policies.
Establish A Robust Communications Program
The way and what you communicate to your customers, partners, and employees during and after a pandemic situation demands much attention. In current times, ensure there is no damage to your reputation from any misinformation on COVID-19.
- Ensure pre-approved scripts and message templates are ready.
- Engage in continual information update process.
- Build effective and sensitive communication with your workforce, suppliers, regulators, insurance companies, customers, and community at large.
- Assign a spokesperson for the pandemic situation; this spokesperson is responsible for all the communication.
- Establish daily communication with your stakeholders and check on the tone of your messages.
- Draft the holding statement of your organization.
- Closely monitor social media posts for your enterprise.
- Take maximum advantage of emergency/mass notification services (EMNS) automation.
- Set up an internal pandemic portal having links to related resources.
Reconsider Your HR Policies & Practices
As your employees are falling ill and absent themselves, you need to keep a close eye on absenteeism. Offer them flexible work options, if it’s possible for them to work from home. Build sensitivity in employee engagement and this calls for changing workplace preferences. For those having implemented a remote work program or Work at Home (WAH), review is essential.
The following considerations need to be made here:
- “Safe from reprisal” assurance.
- Sick leave (number of days, paid or unpaid, salary continuation, salary advance, and benefits coverage).
- Time required by employees for bereavement.
- Succession planning.
- Staff that should be kept in or removed safely from the region/country where the company operates.
- Execute sick workplace handling processes.
- Analyze categories available in skill development. The objective here is to fill critical roles, building on operational resilience.
- Conduct third-party risk assessment and preparedness in the face of high absenteeism.
Plan to Extend Clean Workplace & Follow Personal Hygiene Protocols
- Build a mechanism for frequent cleaning services. Add to the cleaning processes in communal as well as restroom areas.
- Ensure there is regular disinfecting of hard surfaces.
- Keep personal hygiene supplies throughout the workplace.
- Maintain formal contracts for extended cleaning before any kind of crises happens.
- Encourage personal hygiene among your employees.
- Replace biometrics attendance systems with card-based systems during like Covid-19.
Furthermore, set up handling protocol for your employees returning from Coronavirus disease affected areas. What’s most important for you, as an organization, is to comply with local, state, and national laws and regulations.
According to The World Health Organization2, individuals need to adopt these basic protective measures to protect themselves from COVID-19. This also ensures public health and safety.
- Wash hands every now and then or sanitize your hands frequently.
- Maintain social distancing.
- Practice respiratory hygiene and hygiene in general.
- Abstain from touching your face often, especially nose, mouth, and eyes.
- Seek medical care immediately, in case you feel any symptoms of Coronavirus Disease.
- Refrain from consuming raw or uncooked animal products. Cooking is essential for every food item consumed.
Most enterprises are in a relatively responsive mode. They are gearing up for the Coronavirus pandemic just for a short stint of time. Instead, they should be ready for recovery and ultimately, restoration. Remember, restoration takes weeks and even months. Your business, therefore, needs to have a pandemic response plan and be prepared for post-pandemic scenarios and effects.
At Compunnel Digital, health and safety of its employees, customers, partners, and community, is the top-most priority.
1. Business Continuity Management: Pandemic Planning Briefing by Gartner
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