The rapid spread of COVID-19 has become a global concern, leading many countries to take precautionary measures to curb the spread of the virus. Likewise, businesses are now beginning to feel the impact of this outbreak, with disruptions of “nonessential” business operations, mandates for quarantining and social distancing affecting staff attendance, and more.

While these circumstances are unavoidable, you can mitigate the adverse effects of the disease on your business while still ensuring the welfare of your employees. Practicing risk management and business resiliency ensures that you can continue operations with minimal resources. The best practices below can help your management take charge of the situation and handle your operations throughout this outbreak.

Mobilize business continuity protocols

Business continuity protocols (BCP) exist so that a company can maintain core functions and operations during and after unexpected events and emergencies. See to it that protocols are carried out effectively to minimize the friction in adapting to the current circumstances. Part of BCP should include preparations for staff shortages.

With good BCP, you are assured that there are on- and off-site resources in place to maintain your operations. Utilizing customer service outsourcing, for example, can assist with customer orders, while back-office outsourcing services can provide support to your on-site team if you are short-staffed. Other kinds of BCP protocols can also be enacted to safeguard employee wellness without disrupting services.

During these times, your Emergency Preparedness team needs to be in close coordination to monitor and act on the situation as it develops. This is crucial for ensuring that operations remain ongoing without compromising the safety of your employees.

READ THIS RELATED ARTICLE: Business Continuity: 6 Disaster Preparedness Tips for Entrepreneurs

Keep up with the latest information 

The situation can change rapidly at any time, as more information is released about the COVID-19 outbreak. Your company must stay on top of these developments to implement appropriate measures accordingly. This means not only being updated with the latest news but also taking note of multiple expert opinions and vetting information.

You need to provide relevant updates in an organized and concise manner to your employees to give them a better understanding and context regarding the management’s decisions. Sending out regular communication with a summary of facts and implications to operations provides better transparency and minimizes miscommunication. 

Updating your staff on the developments of the outbreak and how your business is responding also lets them know that you are looking out for them. 

Implement flexible working arrangements

As more cases begin to surface, the best way to avoid contamination is to reduce contact with other people or practice social distancing. As an employer, you need to safeguard your staff’s health and well-being. Allow remote work and other flexible working arrangements to minimize the risk of transmission among your employees. 

Collaboration tools, project management dashboards, and cloud-based programs provide practical solutions to keep business operations going despite the lack of physical attendance. As these alternatives are set up, processes and expectations must be clearly communicated to employees to help ease them into the change.

For location-specific positions, give employees flexible leave policies if they suspect they are sick or begin to feel ill during the day. Implementing these measures reduce the chances of possible infection while prioritizing your people’s health and well-being. 

Re-evaluate practices for resiliency

Resiliency—the ability to survive and thrive through unpredictable and changing events—is the goal your company should be striving for in the face of this public health crisis. Adopting resilience principles for your company’s crisis response improves the effectiveness of these strategies while serving as a foundation for future continuity planning.

Redundancy principles account for having access to additional staff or manufacturing capacity to ensure that products or services are still available, even during a crisis. For short-term needs, this may be found beyond the scope of the company’s own resources (such as outsourcing). In the long term, redundancy can be further incorporated into the company’s structure or crisis response plans.

Diversity, meanwhile, allows for a multitude of approaches to planning and reacting to a crisis. Being able to view a crisis from various perspectives prevents the chances of missteps due to underestimating the other factors at play. Having an emergency response team of multiple backgrounds and specializations can play a big part in making your crisis response more diverse.

Finally, modularity allows a system to segment and combine in different ways. While integrated systems are more efficient, adopting modularity principles can help avoid a total halt in production or operations due to unforeseen effects in one or several areas. Creating segments in your processes makes it easier to find replacements and workarounds during a crisis.

Prioritize employee wellness

Workers are what keeps a business going, and in the middle of a public health crisis, ensuring their well-being should be a top priority. Providing flexible working arrangements and leave policies will empower location-specific employees to put their health first and ease stress over consuming sick leaves and the like.

Additionally, you should also provide employees with the necessary tools like disinfectants and personal protective equipment. Set reminders for hygiene practices and implement social distancing in the workplace. Furthermore, open a line of communication for employees to report on their situation. This is crucial for those who are suspected of being ill or are caring for a sick family member.

READ THIS RELATED ARTICLE: What is the Implication of COVID-19 on the eCommerce Industry?

Outpacing the Outbreak

Government and private action on the COVID-19 outbreak continues to change the state of the situation regularly. Businesses need to take this public health crisis seriously and make the necessary adjustments to continue operations while keeping their employees safe.

With the right strategies and protocols, your business can adapt to these circumstances and stay resilient until the worst is over.

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