The Covid-19 Pandemic which originated in China late last year is currently on a world tour. Because of this many governments around the world are asking businesses to shut their doors in a bid to help slow the spread of the disease. The impact of this pandemic for businesses is devastating since country-wide lockdowns have kept people inside their homes for quarantine purposes.
However, surviving the pandemic is possible for businesses. For countries like Australia, some of the strictest lockdown policies are being implemented with schools, pubs, restaurants and theatres shut down and people are being asked to practice social distancing. However, many essential businesses like those providing food, manufacturing, health services and other essentials kept open to supply the needs of people staying at home.
While China seems to be embarking a comeback by slowly easing quarantine restrictions in the hardest-hit region of Wuhan, the rest of the world is still coming to grips with the pandemic. Let’s take a look at some tips that can help protect businesses and help them rebound during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Update Your Covid-19 Intelligence
While Covid-19 is a new disease, it is caused by the coronavirus which causes ailments like the common cold, cough, SARS and MERS. It is primarily spread from person to person through small droplets coming from their nose or mouths when an infected person coughs, sneezes or breathes. The droplets can land on surfaces which transfer to another person when they touch the contaminated surfaces and then touch their face, nose or eyes.
The problem here is that Covid-19 is a new disease. While we know the basic information regarding the disease, there are still many unknowns which in turn fuels fake news on the internet. Since it is a new disease, it needs a new strategy in terms of control, mitigation and treatment.
Knowing the correct facts regarding the virus as well as following only verified and reliable sources of information can help your business survive because the right information will help you prepare properly. As new developments arise in terms of new epicentres for the disease, strategies and potential cures, updating knowledge will make it easier for businesses to reframe their strategies.
Now that you have correct and reliable information, it is important that other people in the organization also have access to this kind of information. Fake news, as well as Armageddon-like scenarios, are currently trendy on the internet causing many people to panic and hoard toilet rolls and essential supplies. It is therefore upper management’s responsibility to educate their employees of the right information so that they are armed with facts and can prepare themselves and their families properly.
Having the right information can also improve the mood inside the office. If your employees have the right info, they can prepare properly at home and have safety measures installed in the office they have peace of mind and can go about daily tasks confidently. This way their productivity is not affected.
According to reports, over a third of humanity is in quarantine due to the disease. In countries like India, more than 1.3 billion people are being asked to stay at home. In the United States, over 80,000 people are infected and more than 1,000 have died. Many other countries like Australia, Germany, Italy and Spain are under lockdown in a bid to flatten the curve.
Now that many people are asked to stay at home, businesses have to become flexible when it comes to staffing the workplace. Work-from-home programs should be implemented whenever possible. Some companies should also explore deploying skeleton forces where only the essential employees show up at work or moving to a shifting schedule to reduce the number of people in the workplace. Being flexible means fewer people are exposed to the virus and more employees are kept safe.
Manage & Mitigate Risks
Pandemics are uncertain times for businesses. This means business leaders or upper management should continue to assess risks and consult with legal counsel regarding their operations.
For example, when implementing quarantine for returning employees who came from infected countries should be within WHO, CDC and other official guidelines. In other words, resist the temptation to make decisions or policies based on rumours or fake news.
General guidelines for management policy should include the following basic principles:
- Use only official sources for Covid-19 health guidelines when creating your own.
- Avoid determining risk based on race or country of origin when observing an employee’s health condition.
- Maintain confidentiality of staff with confirmed Covid-19 and address it as you normally do when it comes to employee issues.
Make Sure That Customers Are Safe Too
Customers are the lifeblood of businesses. Without customers, businesses would cease to exist, which is why businessmen need to take care of them too.
In this relation, you can always remind customers to practice basic Covid-19 prevention by posting signs to wash their hands regularly. You can also put up some hand sanitizer dispensers on your countertops or entrance and encourage them to use them often.
Studies show that asymptomatic patients can still infect other people even though they don’t show symptoms themselves. If masks are available in your country, ask employees to wear them when dealing with clients and customers. Not only will it protect them from the virus, but it will also prevent customers from coming in contact with a potentially positive case.
Prepare Your Supply Chain
Stocks are probably the first to suffer during a worldwide pandemic especially since China is the world’s factory. This is why mitigating the impact on your supply should also be at the forefront of your to-do list to protect your business.
With airlines around the world paring down flights and countries shutting down airports, it can be challenging to maintain a healthy supply of your stocks. To meet this challenge you need to map your upstream suppliers back. Get to know them and develop a relationship with them especially if they are the source of your key resources.
Prepare to repurpose too. For example, hospitals around the world are in short supply of personal protective equipment or PPE which can protect them from Covid-19 infection. In response to this, many designers are repurposing their production line to make PPE for hospital staff and first responders. Businesses should learn how to be fluid and prepare themselves on how they can repurpose existing supplies and materials so that business can go on as usual.
Covid-19 remains to be unpredictable and is keeping governments and businesses on their toes. In times like this, getting reliable information, staying informed and effective communication can help businesses craft a strategy that can tide them up during this upheaval.
This pandemic will continue to challenge businesses for many months to come. However, proper policies and best business practices are the best weapons businesses have to weather these tough times.
We are here to help in these difficult times to enhance your digital systems and help you adapt to remote work and digital delivery of goods and services.