COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), and unlike seasonal flu scenarios this crisis is expected to be a sustained event lasting for as long as a year or more.
Organizations will likely need to develop a crisis response strategy that goes well beyond their existing response plan to adapt existing protocols to the current crisis. This should include the means to continuously monitor the wellbeing of staff and effectively communicate developments to provide assurance to employees.
The following are guidelines organizations can follow when working to update existing response strategies:
- Review your current plans for pandemic or infectious disease response to determine if there are any deviations from local health advisories for COVID-19 and update the key points as soon as possible.
- Communicate these plans to all staff and vendors contracted to/residing in your organization. If the information is already in the organization’s online portal, do a quick summary and communicate key points again.
- Initiate a sustained communications campaign and determine frequency of key points/reminders release. Exceptions would be for “breaking news” or communications “with immediate effect.”
- Review current client legal agreements and activate your respective business continuity plans, especially where supply of goods or services may either be disrupted or need to be deferred.
- If a pre-arrangement has been made, ramp up your personal proactive equipment (PPE) such as face masks, hand sanitizers and thermometers in addition to your current stockpile which may have been based on old planning assumptions. However, only issue them based on local health authority’s recommendation.
- Initiate a calibrated approach for remote working, virtual meetings, non-critical events deferment/postponement of non-essential events, as well as social distancing practices.
- As COVID-19 will require workplace segregation and designated routes to be taken within the premises in the event staff needs to be conveyed to hospital, establish if such measures will impact the processes of other physical safety and security scenario plans.
- Review staff counselling initiatives to assure the organization is prepared to support employee wellbeing needs.
- Think about post recovery, where your company can resume business as usual and even thrive. Review current organization’s staff skillsets and invest in training, consider what technology initiatives will facilitate not only the current COVID-19 situation but will also be a part of enhancing organizational resilience during normalcy or future crises.
- Continue to monitor developments closely and adapt your plan(s) accordingly. Above all stay calm, but do not be complacent.