Governments and businesses around the world are hunkering down to survive the COVID-19 or Coronavirus crisis.
How can you prepare your business? These seven steps can get you started:
1. Good communication
Many employees will feel anxious or confused about how to respond to the crisis.
So be sure to communicate policies promptly, clearly, and in a balanced manner.
Highlight the principles underpinning your policies so your employees can take initiative in unanticipated situations, such as employee holidays in a restricted location or how to handle contractors.
2. Create a personnel information hub
During this crisis employees will still need access to education, health care, daily provisions and the like. You should anticipate and develop solutions to these and create an information hub where employees can find all the information they need.
Information on what Australian workplace laws apply during the current crisis can be found at https://www.fairwork.gov.au/about-us/news-and-media-releases/website-news/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws.
3. Clarify travel policies
Make sure that travel policies are clear in terms of where employees can travel to, for what reasons, what authorisations are required, and when the policy will be reviewed.
4. Identify remote work options
Meet with your IT, HR, communications, and facilities leaders to identify which roles and duties could be done, even partially, without a physical presence in the workplace. Be clear on the policies you develop—where they apply, how they will work, and when they will be reviewed.
5. Stabilise your supply-chain
Attempt to stabilise supply chains by using safety stocks, alternative sources, and working with suppliers to solve bottlenecks.
Where rapid solutions are not possible, co-develop plans, put in place interim solutions, and communicate plans to all relevant stakeholders. Design your supply system—short term and long term—in a modular manner to improve supply resiliency.
6. Conduct regular reviews
Because the crisis will likely create unpredictable fluctuations, establish rapid-reporting cycles so that you can understand how your business is being affected, where mitigation is required, and how quickly operations are recovering.
While many lessons will be learned in retrospect, doing something now, seeing what works and remobilising around the results is likely to be most effective strategy in the short term.
7. Create good will
Solutions that solve for an individual company at the expense of or neglecting the interests of others will create mistrust and damage the business in the longer term.
Conversely, support to customers, partners, health care, and social systems in a time of adversity can potentially create lasting goodwill and trust.
Focus on the intersection between acute social needs and your specific capabilities — in other words, live your purpose.
What if you plan and nothing happens?
At a minimum you will have an organised, flexible work disaster response ready the next time there’s a challenge to operational continuity—chances are there will be.
Prepare your business to survive the coronavirus crisis by establishing good communication protocols, creating a personnel information hub, clarifying your travel policies, establishing remote work options, stabilise your supply chain, regularly reviewing your response to the crisis, and creating good will through good corporate citizenship.