Top 20 tips for business continuity in a global health emergency

The current coronavirus outbreak is a reminder of the impact public health emergencies can have on businesses at both global and local levels.  Some reports have indicated that it could soon be classified as a pandemic; the worldwide spread of a new disease.  What steps should a business take to protect its workers and enable continuity of supply for as long as possible?

Here are our ‘Top 20’ of the many actions required:

  1. Ensure you have a plan.  This should cover pandemic / mass absenteeism from production facilities, head offices and suppliers.  It should also cover loss of key suppliers and major supply chain disruption.
  2. Identify your crisis team.  Depending on the size of your business, this may be a single head office crisis team or a series of local tactical teams around the world reporting into a global strategic team.  The teams should comprise people who are very familiar with your business and come from different functions.
  3. Assign specific tasks to key members of the team (communications, HR, production, logistics, finance, procurement, etc)
  4. Hold crisis team meetings to fit urgency.  This may be several times per day at peak, reducing as the severity passes.
  5. Identify clear steps to protect workers.
  6. Monitor the progress and impact of the disease and report daily to the crisis team.
  7. Develop a protocol for advice to employees if the virus is detected locally or if they suspect they have the virus.
  8. Communicate actions to prevent spreading disease.
  9. List business critical competencies.
  10. Plan how and when you would reduce staff attendance to minimum to enable business to continue.
  11. Identify which critical staff can work remotely.
  12. For manufacturing companies, identify what are the minimum operational conditions.
  13. Identify a plan for ceasing production or a controlled reduction in production.
  14. Are there any company locations or key suppliers in higher risk regions?
  15. Risk assess decisions to ensure there are no adverse unintended consequences of actions.
  16. Identify vulnerable workers (older, pregnant females, others with a history of poor health).
  17. Continue to communicate with all staff and stakeholders through all relevant media.
  18. Monitor social media and engage with your audience.
  19. Reference government advice in communications.
  20. Make sure your plan includes steps for recovery, when the worst of the impact has passed.

It’s worth noting that many of these can be done in advance, before the company is facing such a situation. The time to act is now. 

If you would like help with your BC planning, simulation exercises or a BCP healthcheck then please get in touch and one of our friendly team will be able to help.


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