The coronavirus outbreak continues to reach new milestones, the New York Times reports, disrupting businesses across the globe.
Apple, Starbucks and Ikea have closed their stores in China. Other brands have kept stores open, but are seeing “deserted” shopping malls as people stay home to prevent further spread of the virus. Brands that rely on Chinese manufacturing for their products could see delays or other disruptions in the coming months if factories remain offline.
If your organization is like most, you’ve discussed the escalating coronavirus outbreak and what it might mean for your organization. Some of you may have already decided that employees will simply work from home, or that your business continuity plans will cover you.
These strategies aren’t uncommon. I see them all the time when I visit customers to assess their pandemic readiness. But a wide-scale infectious disease outbreak like coronavirus requires more than a business continuity plan or an on-the-fly decision to have everyone work from home.
It’s time to dust off your Pandemic Readiness Plan. Let’s run through the key ways a pandemic can disrupt your business and how you can respond.
Infectious disease outbreaks are a moving target with breaking news, government advisories and actions, and potential business and economic impacts changing quickly.
Coronavirus might disrupt your business any number of ways, but be prepared for the following disruption scenarios:
Is your organization prepared itself for these situations? Let’s look at some guidelines for pandemic preparedness.
There are five key things you need to consider as you prepare for a pandemic:
For example, I recently worked with the chief medical officer of a news organization on how it could keep the news on the air in case of an infectious disease outbreak. Part of the plan was reprogramming the elevators so that news anchors and engineers would have a private elevator that would limit their exposure to others within the office building who might be carrying a virus.
What will you do to continue meeting customer demand? How will you handle surges in IT help desk call-ins from remote workers? Have you trained employees on remote working or set policies temporarily authorizing overtime or accelerated schedules? Now is the time to make sure these policies are in place and understood.
One pharmaceutical company we’ve worked with has plans to accelerate production on all medicines and vaccines when there’s reasonable concern that a virus may reach pandemic levels. This ensures supplies can meet demand even if one of their manufacturing plants needs to shut down.
Ultimately, a pandemic plan addresses workforce, workplace, vendors, and customers. Crafting or updating one will make your employees feel more comfortable, and ensures you’re better equipped to handle customer needs despite an outbreak that impacts your business.