Preparing for a Possible Pandemic – Business Edition
While there are still many unknown’s about COVID-19 what we do know about any crisis is that being prepared is imperative.
On a personal level, being prepared means thinking about what it would take to keep you and your loved ones safe. From a business perspective, being prepared means thinking through how to keep your employees safe as well as the long term effects a pandemic could have on your business. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases has advised that local communities and cities may need to “modify, postpone or cancel mass gatherings” and this could have quite the impact on businesses worldwide.
Here are some recommended strategies that will help you prepare:
- Start talking now and develop a plan! Connect with your company’s stakeholders and start discussing hypothetical situations. Gather an understanding of if a pandemic were to happen, who could handle key responsibilities, where would job responsibilities transfer to and how long could your business sustain mass absences.
- Discuss the real possibilities of working remotely. What processes and procedures can be put in place that would make working from home possible? Consider everything from virtual meeting space to increased server space to investing in online software to enhance the work capabilities.
- Have an honest conversation with your employees about staying home when sick. We don’t know enough about COVID-19’s incubation period nor how communicable the disease is. It is critical that anyone not feeling well must stay home and not try to play ‘hero’ as they run the risk of inadvertently infecting others. It is also just as important that employees feel that they have permission to stay home and that there won’t be negative repercussions if they miss work.
- Strongly consider cancelling all non-critical business travel. If business travel is necessary, talk through protocols and necessary precautions.
- If an employee does become sick, send them home immediately. Should they subsequently test positive for COVID-19, inform the company’s employees. However be sure to maintain complete confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Stay flexible. Information is changing daily, sometimes hourly, and everyone must be ready and willing to change course if necessary. Communication is key and by starting now, hopefully you can put a plan in place that will keep your company strong in the event of a pandemic.