As COVID-19 continues spreading rapidly across the globe, its impact will affect our communities in many different ways. The Caribbean region is now faced with the challenges that many countries, such as China, Germany, Asia, America, Italy, have been battling for weeks.
The outbreak of the coronavirus poses severe threats to our businesses. To help curb the challenges, the World Health Organization has released an extensive guide to help get your business ready. The document gives advice on:
However, to help deal with this threat, I am extending the list with 6 more steps you can take to help prepare your business.
It is essential to know who is the official voice for your country as it relates to coronavirus. In most cases, the local health department will serve as this role.
Local health departments are often connected with regional and international organizations. These health departments should have access to the most up-to-date and reliable information that is shared with the local health departments.
Don't keep the information shared from your local health department. Please share it with team and family. This will help everyone to be prepared.
The WHO also has a public health advisory on coronavirus. Below are some images you should share with your employees.
Find more images here
Develop a proactive communication plan for internal or external stakeholders for each of your communication challenges (press release, social media, direct emails etc.)
It is good to review all external messaging to be sensitive to customers needs.
Be prepared to address questions for unplanned and planned interactions such as conferences, phone, press, email etc.
We live in a society where we often like to meet physically to have short conversations; however, with the virus looming, we are forced to have less physical contact. This is an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate how you communicate.
If you already started optimizing your business for 2020 this process may be easier.
If it is a one-on-one meeting, consider using WhatsApp to communicate or use your phone and call directly.
For more than one person more consider using conferencing software such as Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype.
Communication is not the only area of your business that you should use physical contact. For payments considering using your bank's online payment services such as ACH, direct deposit.
You should definitely scale down offline operations in favour of online. Make your customers understand that you prefer online contact at this time.
Conduct supplier risk assessments to determine the severity and likelihood of impacts (i.e., outsourced vendors in impacted countries). Ask suppliers for their contingency plans in the event disruption occurs.
What if you absolutely cannot have any employees at work? Does your business have to shut down?
To reduce physical contact, consider allowing most of your staff to work remotely.
To test this, set up a day where you have most employees work from home and only the most essential staff at work.
This experiment can also teach your company a lot about how well it functions when your employees are not all together. If this test goes well, consider implementing this system until the spread of coronavirus significantly subsides.
In summary, ensure your business can operate effectively with the minimal number of employees required. Actively limit physical contact with customers. Employ best hygiene practices and limit physical contact with the outside world unless absolutely necessary. The coronavirus situation is very dynamic and must be watched around the clock. Having a proactive plan in place is critical to help your business, employees, customers and other stakeholders.
Check out the following resources for more information: