Given the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), organizations should review, update and test their business continuity and disaster recovery plans. In this type of crisis, your business may experience:
Absenteeism – A pandemic could affect as many as 40% of the workforce during periods of peak illness. Employees could be absent because they are sick, are afraid to come to work, are caring for sick family members, or need to stay home with children because schools or daycare centers are closed.
Changes in patterns of commerce – During a pandemic, consumer demand for items/services related to infection control is likely to increase dramatically, while consumer interest in other goods/services may decline.
Interrupted supply/delivery – Shipments of items from those geographic areas severely affected by the pandemic may be delayed or canceled. This checklist can help you plan for and minimize potential disruption to your employees and operations.
These are some key steps you can take to help ensure adequate preparation and continuity of operations.
Educate and train employees in proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing techniques. (For more details visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.)
Develop work practice and engineering controls that could provide additional protection to your employees and customers, such as: drive-through service windows, clear plastic sneeze barriers, ventilation, and the proper selection, use and disposal of personal protective equipment.
Create a cross-functional response team. This will help you understand all the resources available and identify multiple/better approaches to problems, so you can respond more quickly as issues arise.
Practice. Have all your operations run off-site for a day to pre-identify gaps in your plan.
Identify your key personnel and cross-train employees to perform essential roles in the case of severe staffing shortages.
Consider which employees would most likely need to stay home if schools close.
Create a consistent HR strategy for your employee absences.
Plan how to communicate and coordinate with employees, customers and key vendors/suppliers.
- Staff: next steps/expected timing, employment relationship, safety, job expectations, etc.
- Vendors/suppliers: next steps/expected timing, request for patience
- Customers: next steps/expected timing/assurances that there is leadership and planning in place
Test and secure remote access to systems to enable staff to work from home.
Ensure the availability of essential technology and supplies.
- Work with IT to support continued communications (e.g., email, remote access, conference calls, webinars, etc.).
- Identify supply needs for periods of 2-5 weeks.
- Stockpile infection control supplies, including handwashing products, tissues, and materials to produce educational materials on infection control (paper, printer ink, toner).
Consider the effects on business operations if absenteeism were 25-40%.
Prioritize the severity of potential business disruptions, based on the estimated impact on operations and probability of occurrence.
Consider the essential resources and activities (payroll processing, IT support, security, etc.) needed to keep your business operating.
Consider trigger points to:
- Reduce operations to core business activities with a diminished workforce.
- Temporarily reduce business services.
- Shorten hours of operation.
- Arrange on-site housing for employees performing critical roles, if necessary.
Consider facility maintenance, including:
- Building security
- System security
- Facility management and cleaning
- Food spoilage (If you are shutting down, don’t leave food behind.)
Revenue: Understand the negative impacts on your revenue and consider ways to mitigate them. (For example, schools could see impact on revenue such as tuition, state/grant funding and bookstore sales, and may want to consider extending the school year or canceling breaks.)
Expenses: Understand expense control, consider vendor negotiations to extend greater credit, defer payments, or obtain discounts — generally ask for patience.
Remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Armanino’s experts are here to help.