If you are someone who likes being on top of all the latest developments of coronavirus, you must be aware that COVID 19 has been declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. With COVID 19 spreading quickly across borders all over the world, the foremost thing that has been hit hard is businesses — be it the aviation industry, food industry or even the stock market, coronavirus is leaving a mark everywhere.
But guess what? Whenever an unanticipated event such as coronavirus strikes, a business continuity plan (BCP) is sure to give your business the best possible shot at success.
What is the Business Continuity Plan (BCP)?
A business continuity plan comes handy whenever an emergency, a disaster or an unexpected event occurs and ends up disrupting the businesses. A BCP involves planning beforehand about how the key services and/ or the products can be continued, how can the key businesses and systems be recovered and in addition to that, it also describes how an organization will continue to function during or after the event. However, every business is unique and the same business continuity plan can not be implemented for all of them. A distinctive plan that suits your business and operations the best will need to be created. In this article, we shall talk about creating a business continuity plan for various infectious diseases such as SARS or coronavirus. Listed below are a few general examples of what a BCP should include:
- Policy, purpose, and scope business continuity plan
- Goals and objectives
- Key roles and responsibilities
- Risk mitigation plans
- List of tasks required to keep operations flowing
- Explanation of where to go during an emergency
- Information on data backups and site backup
- Plan maintenance protocols
- Coordination with local emergency personnel
- Contact information of management personnel
BCP Responding to the COVID-19 Outbreak
The coronavirus outbreak has not just impacted the communities, families, and lives of people all around the world but also hit the businesses hard. As the international response continues to develop, the organizations have been facing major challenges that need to be responded to as soon as possible. A business continuity plan is the best bet to keep safe business from the coronavirus. Find the business continuity plan (BCP), which was developed for SMEs to help them implement the safety measures within the affordable budget. You also can create your own BCP. Here we have jotted down a few pointers for the organizations to consider while making their business continuity plan –
The most important point of all, a strongly developed crisis plan is the most essential part to make sure that any possible incidents are handled well, the negative impacts associated with them can be minimized while being able to meet the government priorities around maintaining the safety measures. Lots of organizations have such plans in place for their workplaces and supply chains but coronavirus has already unleashed the flaws in some of them. With the unknown variables around the outbreak of this pandemic, reviewing decreases and business continuity plans essential so that it can be developed according to different scenarios and be tested accordingly.
Effective communication forms the backbone of any business plan or in fact, any plan! Safety management against COVID-19 includes having a proactive, factual based communication for all stakeholders and employees to ensure that the misinformation and associated panic can be minimized and as a result, the impact on the economy and the individuals will be significantly reduced. We have already been seeing mixed messaging on how the virus is being spread on various digital platforms. It caused negativity across the general public and has been making them question the preparedness for the same.
Without a doubt, humanity is at stake in the current scenario but we all have been hearing about lots of challenges that the employees are facing some of which are – setting the tax position of the individuals who have been traveling across countries due to emergencies, the companies that have been forced to halt their supply chains and temporarily as their employees to stop working due to the risks associated with the coronavirus outbreak.
Stock levels are depleting rapidly for the companies that are dependent on supply chains in the affected areas. There have to be strong strategies put in place for alternative sourcing. In most of the cases, the business stakeholders have been concerned about the future viability of the business and of course, the clients are in utter distress as well.
Focus on Factual Information
When people are provided actual and accurate information, prevention can be better. Having the correct information in hand and being able to verify its reliability is critical in the kind of situation we all are in right now because the reliable information forms the basis of crisis planning and response and lets the companies make informed decisions. What is more, is that it will let the organization stakeholder know about all the resources that are needed to control the outbreak, the things they need to have in place and provide the infected individuals with first aid as soon as possible.
Why Workplace Health Safety for Employees Matters
If there is one thing that should be on the priority list of any business, it has to be an employee health management program to keep the employees safe. It goes without saying that employees are the most important asset of an organization and their safety should be absolutely important.
It is the legal obligation of an employer to make sure that they are providing a healthy and safe workplace to their employees and also to anyone else who may be visiting their premises such as the contractors or public. It is the right of an employee to be working in a safe and healthy place that does not threaten their mental, emotional, or physical health.
An employer must keep a close track of quickly emerging developments and consider taking every possible safety measure against coronavirus to maintain a safe workplace and to reassure their employees that management is appropriately monitoring and responding to the situation.
There may be concerns bothering the employees that are regulated by the employer about coronavirus and queries about how to prevent exposure to it in their offices. If there is a risk of exposure to COVID-19 for employees while working, employers must be able to:
- Identify the risk;
- Assess the risk;
- Implement proper controls through their prevention program.
Along with that, the employers must also provide their employees with personal protective equipment (PPE), while providing training and procedures to employees to tackle any issue. In such a situation, the employee must comply with the procedures and plans laid out by the employer.
5 Tips on How to Prevent Your Employees from Coronavirus
Businesses rarely ever got hit by any event or disaster but COVID 19 has been one such case that has impacted not just the communities across the world but also slowed down businesses. In this section, we have provided 5 general tips for any organization to implement and prevent their employees from coronavirus.
1. Educate Your Workforce and Communicate Regularly with Employees
An employee should be able to talk out the situation with their employees openly so that the employees have all the information they need to be at the top of every development about coronavirus. The communication about this can include policies and procedures to maintain good personal hygiene, precautions to take during business travels, working remotely, self quarantines, working remotely, safety precautions and screening the visitors coming down to your office to ensure the health of your employees are some of the most effective methods to let your workforce know that you are monitoring the situation and working towards keeping everyone healthy and safe.
2. Monitor Developments on a Daily Basis
Coronavirus has been spreading like Wildfire and nobody can ignore it. CDC and WHO have been updating the latest information on coronavirus frequently on their websites and we suggest that the employees must keep checking them as often as possible to stay informed about how the outbreak has been continuing to evolve. If you visit the CDC website, they have the latest updates link on their page for coronavirus. In a similar manner, the WHO website has a rolling updates section on their page.
3. Appoint a Cross-Functional Coronavirus Emergency Management Team
Coronavirus has the ability to disrupt business operations to a very high degree without any kind of warning and we have been witnessing in the past few weeks that this is exactly what has been happening. In such a situation, employers need to be really quick to act if the coronavirus enters their workplace. They must appoint a central person of contact and form a cross-functional emergency management team (EMT) to address all of the issues arising from the coronavirus outbreak in the workplace. This should include employee health and safety, compensation of the workers, external and internal messaging, medical and sick leaves, confidentiality and privacy protections and last but not least the legal compliance. To implement emergency measures, provide your EMT with a health management tool to collect and monitor data automatically.
4. Consider Having Non-Essential Employees Work Remotely
In today’s digital era, It is easy for employers to ask the employees whose presence in the workplace is not important to work remotely. The reason is simple – they must consider the security risks associated with letting the employees work remotely and provide them sufficient IT support and equipment for employees who may be working out of office but have not done so in the past. There should be proper policies in place to make sure that these employees are paid for the number of hours they have worked, and that they are reimbursed for all the work-related expenses that they may be doing in accordance with the applicable policies.
5. Reinforce Good Hygiene Practices and Take Related Safety Precautions
Business planning for coronavirus is important and it can not be done without reinforcing good hygiene practices and safety precautions. If you refer to the “General Duty” clause of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, you will find that it requires the employees to be provided with a safe and healthy workplace that is free from any kind of health risk that can cause physical harm or in the worst case, even death. In the wake of coronavirus, the employers must ask their employees to take the most basic preventive measures and safety precautions as suggested by leading health organizations that can help reduce the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus or its spread in the workspace premises.
- Frequently washing hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol
- Avoiding touching their eyes, nose, and mouth
- Covering sneezes or coughs with tissues, or else with a sleeve or shoulder whichever is possible
- Avoiding close contact with people who are feeling sick
- Staying home when sick
- Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and objects
In addition to these points, the employer should be well prepared with temperature measurement tools, have an isolation room and provisions to sanitize the office space to stay safe from coronavirus.
Example of Business Continuity Plans Amid Coronavirus
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Building a business continuity plan can be quite tiring and most of all, expansive. With hundreds and thousands of ideas and resources available on the internet, it can be really difficult to begin working on it. While the number of the unprecedented coronavirus cases have been on a rapid increase, nothing but well-laid business continuity plans amid coronavirus can make things better for you until the situation subsides.