Does your business have a Business Continuity Plan for emergencies such as fire or flood? Many companies have a document that has been thrown together by someone in the organisation to ensure they comply with requirements for a tender or a large client. But does this plan cover a pandemic? Would it help if COVID-19 breaks out in your region? Do your management and staff even know what the document says?
Now is the time to review your Business Continuity Plan to ensure you have considered the potential impact of this virus. What would you do if people had to stay at home? Could you keep operating in any way? Are your materials or stock going to be affected? Will you have access to the appropriate PPE?
This is not the time to panic, but it is the time to review your plans. For example, the government and health industry plan for this type of event by stockpiling millions of medical masks. What should your business have excess stock of? (Please don’t go crazy on the toilet paper!)
There are two other things you should start doing – training and testing. Ensure your management and staff know who is responsible for communicating with clients if you are not able to deliver, or how to limit access to your premises if appropriate. Ensure your staff know what they are meant to do if they are sick, or if the business decides to send them to work from home.
Can they work from home? In many companies it is not unusual for office staff to occasionally work from home, but if this isn’t the norm, get your staff to test it out to ensure they have an adequate computer and internet connection. And what about field staff? What are your expectations of them if the office is effectively closed?
I hope it’s like the umbrella analogy. Carry one and it never rains. Prepare your business continuity plan now and hopefully you don’t need to activate it. In the meantime, keep calm, keep alert to information from the authorities, and keep your staff informed. All the best through this next period of uncertainty.