As evidenced in the last few weeks and months, the world is ill prepared to detect and stop pandemic outbreaks. The impact of COVID-19 has caused unimaginable tragedy, forced inconceivable losses to world economies and posed new challenges to industries and businesses to stay operational. The economic damage caused by these outbreaks of infectious disease can and must be managed. Organizations have rapidly realized how preparing for and responding to a pandemic differs drastically to the various scenarios covered in most business continuity planning practices.
As the crisis has escalated, organizations have found themselves caught without an action plan, struggling to adapt and equip themselves for a fully remote workforce without the tools needed to monitor, mitigate and respond to business risks caused by this virus.
Here, are two of the areas that must be immediately addressed in order for companies to manage, and ultimately survive, COVID-19’s impact:
Clear decision-making and chain of command are important to ascertain at the beginning of the process, if not already established as part of business continuity and resiliency plans. Having cross-functional teams integrated at all levels of an organization enables them to share information from the front lines up to management, allowing senior leaders to make real-time decisions. Essential roles to consider include: HR, labor and employment law, communications, health and safety, cybersecurity, IT, finance and accounting, business strategy, and travel and logistics. Remaining flexible and utilizing agile best practices can help an organization structure its response in an effective manner.
Enabling transparent communications both to and from employees is essential in times of crisis. Effective communications lay out the institution’s pandemic response and addresses impacts and concerns across all levels and functions of an organization throughout each phase. Establishing clear policies, procedures, and FAQs while developing simple channels to ask questions and distribute answers can greatly reduce angst and anxiety throughout the organization.
Greater clarity may speed the ability to respond to realities on the ground. Establishing strong and clear communication channels early with critical customers, service providers, and suppliers are essential for organizations hoping to successfully support its employees and ongoing business, and is equally important in mitigating disruptions in the supply chain. You must also consider how a rapidly changing environment will necessitate the ability to quickly update or supplement and/ or supersede previously communicated information.
The challenge of responding to this pandemic will continue to grow over the coming weeks and months. Data and communication advances, along with robust corporate governance should enable companies to be better prepared and more responsive than ever, as long as they are utilized effectively by organizations. Companies that protect their people, assets and communities will be rewarded in the long term.
As this crisis evolves, we will continue to release blogs to assist organizations in managing the fallout of this pandemic. See also: