With the coronavirus showing no signs of slowing down just yet and with yet more cases being confirmed in the UK; it’s becoming increasingly important for businesses to give some thought as to how they might deal with disruption to their operations.
Many firms are already issuing guidance to staff on what to do if they have travelled to certain areas – including most recently Italy – and what to do if they suspect they may have been in contact with others who have travelled to and from the most badly affected parts of the world.
Firms can sometimes fail to prepare for the effects of such things as pandemics – or other disruptive events such as storms (Ciara, Dennis and now Jorge spring to mind!), or people being stranded in Tenerife due to sandstorms – for fear of appearing alarmist or of causing panic by scaremongering.
However it’s our advice that a bit of forward planning now is prudent and sensible and actually helps firms to act in the best interests of its staff; as well as to keep the business running.
A good Business Continuity Plan (or Disaster Recovery Plan) can provide clear and direct guidance for people to turn to when an emergency or unforeseen circumstance arises. Disconcertingly, the next few weeks could provide the perfect opportunity for plans of this kind to come into their own.
Having a well thought-through and practical plan in case of pandemic, natural disaster, fire, break-in or other disruption, can provide reassurance that things won’t grind to a halt if key staff are suddenly absent through enforced (or voluntary) quarantine, or if the town, city or building where you are based should be cordoned off and locked down.
Clear and measured communications laying out the situation in simple and unambiguous terms for staff are critical at this time. What do you want them to do if they develop a cold? Discover they have been in contact with someone who has the coronavirus? Or asks if they should go and be tested?
Some simple precautions include:
- Stocking up on hand sanitiser and soap and providing information to staff on the importance of being extra vigilant with hand washing, and the use and disposal of tissues when coughing or sneezing. (Did you know that the BBC is already reporting a worldwide shortage of Dettol and Lysol for example?)
- Advising staff on voluntary self-isolation, if you, or they think they’ve been exposed or affected.
- Thoughts about how this might play out, if staff are affected and implications on payroll, capacity, and impact of a lockdown of part of the town where people live – enough laptops, remote access security reminders, etc. to enable them to work from home.
- Issuing travel guidance to staff.
- State your policy on absence related to a pandemic – for example will you pay employees who self-isolate; will they receive paid leave if they have to care for children whose schools have been closed for deep cleaning? It may be worth you speaking to an employment lawyer or HR professional for advice.
- Record actions in your risk register.
For quick advice on whether your Business Continuity Plan will serve your business well during what could be an uncertain period in the coming months contact firstname.lastname@example.org