Natural disasters, cyberattacks, and outages are threats that every business prepares for. But the COVID-19 pandemic called the worst crisis since World War II, caught businesses unguarded due to its scale and impact. Enterprises around the United States are suffering due to a lack of preparation.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, life has come to a grinding halt. Small businesses, such as those in retail and dining, face empty shops and seats. Charlotte’s hospitality industry had poured investments in anticipation of the upcoming Republican National Convention. Within a week’s time, most reservations had been canceled, leaving many hotel owners and staffers uncertain of the future.
What do you need in a business continuity plan for COVID-19?
Due to the massive disruption brought on by COVID-19, businesses are pondering on this question: “Is our business continuity plan (BCP) adequately prepared to sustain and recover operations during a pandemic?”
To update your BCP’s readiness for viral outbreaks, it should at least contain the following directives.
Delegate key personnel and their backups
Appoint a team to oversee pandemic readiness activities and coordinate employee roles and responsibilities during an outbreak.
Among those responsibilities will be to monitor news and announcements. This is to ensure that the entire organization makes well-informed decisions and employees are not misled by inaccuracies.
If any overseers should fall ill, there should be backup personnel assigned in advance to execute their responsibilities. This goes the same for other key functional stakeholders, whether in accounting and finance, portfolio management, investor relations, and so on.
Establish an internal communications strategy
An internal communications strategy is essential in engaging or involving employees in your business’s organized response to various outbreak scenarios.
It defines your company’s plans and your employee’s actions in response to the closing of factories, mandatory quarantine, unavailability of public transport, suspected or confirmed carriers in your workforce, and so on.
This also includes responding to rumors about the company and confirming its status during and after a viral outbreak. Lastly, it covers how and when your company should make an announcement of an “all clear” status and the eventual return to normal operations.
Enable remote access for work-from-home employees
Many companies were taken by surprise by the spread of the coronavirus and hadn’t prepared for work-from-home arrangements. To facilitate remote productivity in a secure manner, here are a few guidelines:
- Provide computers, monitors, and other necessary equipment for employees’ work-from-home setup. Avoid permitting work on personally-owned computers to protect company data from unwanted access or cyberthreats.
- Enable cloud storage for data or files that allow collaboration by authorized employees. Ensure data protection in the cloud with security measures, such as encryption and multifactor authentication (MFA).
- Test and confirm remote access. Find out if virtual private network (VPN) equipment is up to date and internet service lines are sufficient to sustain employee productivity. Test video or voice conferencing capabilities as well.
- Prepare your remote workforce. Test your employees’ remote working capabilities before a viral outbreak occurs by allowing staff to work remotely on certain days of the week. This will function as a test run of your business continuity plan, allowing your organization to identify and remediate issues, even the closure of facilities.
Keep open communications with business associates and other contacts
In the event of a lockdown or similar circumstances where travel is restricted, find ways to coordinate and keep constant communication with vendors, investors, clients, shareholders, partners, and even the media.
For instance, ensure that your investors are able to receive investor reports, in spite of disruptions to normal operations.
An outbreak can put supply lines at serious risk. Therefore, carefully evaluate the capability of critical service providers to support your business during a pandemic. And consider alternate service providers, even if you’re confident that these primary service providers can deliver.
Conduct pandemic training
Conduct tabletop exercises that go over scenarios such as office closures, health emergencies, quarantines, and disruptions of mass transportation and service providers. This will ensure that employees understand procedures for accessing information and critical business systems. It will also ingrain their roles and responsibilities in preparation for a public health crisis.
These trying times are proving that failure to plan is to plan for failure. At SpectrumWise, we want you to be more than adequately prepared. We know the value of planning for every stage of a crisis, from the threat of a disaster all the way to its aftermath. Find out more about our business continuity planning today.