As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, it’s important to understand how it will affect your business operations.

Although the worries surrounding the pandemic are understandable, it’s important to remain calm. The more proactive you are, the more control you’ll have in the event your company is affected. 

With this in mind, we’ve created four steps you can use as a foundation to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your business.

1. Create a COVID-19 Committee.

Ensure a representative from all departments is present to help you navigate and plan. This helps you maintain a unified front. It also provides you with valuable insight into whether particular solutions will be feasible or not. 

Committee members will be the first point of contact within each department and ensure the flow of communication reaches all employees. They should also be responsible for relaying any employee absences or concerns so that you can address them in a timely manner.

2. Communicate.

It goes without saying that communication is even more crucial during times of crisis. Keep information accurate, relevant and maintain a calm tone in order to avoid unnecessary panic. Updating employees about proactive measures and plans helps everyone feel more prepared.  

An important part of this step is establishing communication channels. Assign different channels for different levels of urgency, i.e., e-mails, intranet notices, or a phone call. Communicate this with everyone and have a back-up method if you cannot reach someone on their primary contact line.

3. Assess Risks & Anticipate Risks.

Consider what risks a pandemic may pose to your actual business operations and what that looks like. This may vary depending on your industry or what service you provide. 

Brainstorm with your committee about potential ways to minimize these disruptions, such as: 

  • Allow those that are already equipped to work remotely to do so. 
  • Train your leaders and supervisors to manage teams remotely. 
  • Set expectations and guidelines regarding remote working hours and communication. 
  • Ensure the health and safety of your employees by setting up a
  • work alone check-in. 
  • Make sure you have critical calls covered with urgent response and disaster preparedness support.

4.  Test and Review.

Following training, start testing the capabilities of working remotely. Begin with one department at a time and coordinate a day for them to work remotely. 

Seeing which departments are impacted most by working remotely helps you identify where to direct more attention and support. This approach also lessens the risk of the dysfunction that may occur if it were office-wide. 

Continue to collect feedback and be willing to adapt and your plan if necessary. 

Having a robust, flexible risk and crisis plan in place is your first line of defense during a pandemic. It will also act as a blueprint you can revisit, revise and learn from for future crises.