COVID-19: Prepare Businesses for Next Pandemic

business in pandemic

The world is going through a crisis that has caused several fatalities and disruption. This scenario has revealed that workplaces and the world are intimately connected. On one part, it results in better efficiency and speed of worldwide business. In contrast, the rise in mobility can also mean an accelerated risk of a plague turning into an epidemic.

When viral and disease outbreaks are becoming more frequent, every organization should take added measures to guard the health and well-being of its employees to minimize business disruptions during the time of the epidemic.

The COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted many organizations and left them uncertain whether their risk mitigation was sufficient. While we are trying to overcome the current crisis, the businesses must rethink their pandemic strategies to guard their workforce.

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One thing is sure that pandemic or epidemic will happen whether organizations are prepared for it or not. A severe health crisis like the COVID-19 outbreak will have multiple effects on businesses, including a diminished workforce, operational disruptions, reduced customer demand, and risk of reputational damage.

Here are the steps that businesses need to take to stay prepared for the next pandemic.

Review Your Business Continuity Plan

When you get the first sign of an epidemic, check your business continuity plans and, therefore, the pandemic procedures embedded in the plans to make sure your organization is ready for the worst situation. The continuity plan should include the measures concerning whether an employee is impacted, how to accommodate employees who don’t feel safe coming into a communal workspace, or whose home life could also be affected if schools or childcare centers are closed. It should also include an idea to deal with any employee who is in danger of infection while traveling in confined areas.

Identify critical people, processes, and technologies that will have the most significant negative impact on your business and make recovery strategies to attenuate any disruption. It might include outsourcing or maybe a more flexible workspace, developing commuting options for your employees if public transportation isn’t available, or put in practice remote working methods. It can involve increasing inventory levels of high volume products/services.

Train & Educate The Employees

Its workforce backs every organization, so it is vital to educate the employees about the continuity plan so that they can understand the impacts of the pandemic and expect accordingly. Also, be transparent with your internal and external stakeholders and let them know about your strategy to handle the epidemic at the workplace.

Issue travel advisories and confirm they understand the resources available to guard them. Ongoing communication about the pandemic will help your employees feel informed and safe.

Communicate with Your Team & Customers

Share information and official updates from organizations such as the World Health Organization or the CDC so that they understand the potential threats. 

Encourage them to speak up if they begin to develop symptoms and reassure them that self-reporting is safe. Consider asking to quarantine themselves if they have been to areas where the epidemic has been reported.

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Follow Hygiene Protocols at Physical Workspace

Review your physical workplace for potential points of transmission of infection like shared desks and telephones, conference rooms, and common areas. Increase the frequency of office cleanings, provide more personal hygiene products like hand gel and masks for your employees, review your work-from-home policy, and post educational signs on how employees can protect themselves.

Stay Prepared for Remote Working Environment

IT organizations as a business are relatively well-prepared in terms of business continuity, but assess the availability chain for critical equipment and keep extra inventory if needed. 

Prepare remote data center management and cloud server options for critical situations. Train your workforce for a remote working environment and remote tools, also identify alternative communication channels. Reschedule non-essential tasks and prioritize critical applications.

Review HR Policies Accordingly

Closely monitor the absenteeism rate of your organization for any sign of a drag. Identify critical staff and confirm your organization can still function in their absence. Be prepared for the situation considering the absentee rate is above 40%. 

Have some sensitivity to bring changes in employee engagement and workplace preferences, and consider offering extra leave or remote working. Other things to think about are possible repatriation of employees and visitor handling procedures.

Review of Finance Implications

Make sure to revise revenue forecasts and communicate with investors and suppliers about any potential financial issues. It’s also critical to make sure that your organization has the capital to last out the storm. Consider increasing the frequency of capital checks and seeking loans or government-sponsored financial relief to support income.

Stay Connected with Local Hospitals & Officials

Communicate with the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator at your local hospital to know what resources are available to you and your employees to ensure emergency help. 

Also, contact the Infectious and Emerging Diseases at the Department of Health in your region to arrange a response within the event of an emergency.

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Anticipate Insurance Exclusions

The scope of available coverage will largely depend upon whether companies can demonstrate direct physical losses flowing from the virus, like work facilities being infected, and whether government actions will amount to sufficient exertions of authority to need insurers to intensify. If the exclusions can’t be removed, businesses should be pressing for premium reductions commensurate with the modifications in coverage

Review Post-Pandemic Results

Identify three lessons learned or key observations as a result of pandemic planning. Also, get each area to spot a minimum of three areas for improvement within the exercise. List and prioritize your short and long-term follow-up actions and schedule future exercises or results reports.