Keep your business on track with tried and true crisis procedures
Many organizations that are exempted from “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders are having to develop new procedures so that they can continue to operate under new restrictions and controls as a result of COVID-19. This may be new for many, but critical industries like utilities and refineries have practices and procedures in place that have been tested repeatedly through hurricanes, explosions and other events. Your organizations can adopt many of these procedures to maintain operations in the face of the COVID-19 crisis.
Whatever the business, your operations rely on three resources — people, processes and technology. While all three of these resources are fundamental, COVID-19 has shifted the focus of reliance within each of these segments. Because of social distancing, people are now working six feet apart on location or remotely. They are relying heavily on technology to facilitate the communication and interaction of the workforce. Processes are being standardized to allow organizations to share work between resources.
Due to the nature of this crisis, ensuring the safety and health of employees, whether they are on-site or operating remotely, has become a major focus. Many organizations have implemented additional procedures at the work site to protect the workforce such as:
- Altering functions to facilitate required social distance
- Screening incoming employees and customers
- Including stations for health check (temperature)
- Installing sanitation stations
- Making personal protective gear widely available
These are first steps in ensuring the continuity and availability of your workforce. They are directed to the environments over which your organization has the greatest control. But business continuity plans should extend beyond the work site to provide the most support for the people that make up your workforce.
Here are some key components of an effective business continuity plan. Every strategy may not be applicable to your operations, but adopting even a few of them may be the difference between continuing to operate through the current crisis and being forced to intermittently and unexpectedly shut down.
- Critical employee documentation. In emergencies, many employees for critical industries and infrastructure are issued badges identifying them as a critical resource to allow them to pass police barricades and locked down transit locations. Issuing your critical employees letters on company letterhead explaining their requirement to be on site can be a first step to ensuring that your workforce is available for you to continue operations.
- Scheduling. Situations will inevitably arise in which employees are unable or unwilling to come on site. Planning for these eventualities by ensuring that replacements have been identified to maintain the minimum operational requirements can ensure your business has a continuity of operations through the duration of the crisis.
- Cross-training / documenting procedures. For the critical processes of your operations, cross-training employees to perform critical operational functions or developing sufficient documentation such as desk procedures or other instructional guidance can ensure that other resources are able to be utilized if key personnel are unavailable. Similarly, for remote workforces that may not be operating at 100% capacity due to competing demands, standardized processes allow critical process loads to be distributed across the workforce.
- Care for your employee and their family. At these times, employees are concerned about their families and may be less productive or not as available. Alleviating the employee’s concerns about their families (to the extent possible) by responding to the concerns of your critical employees can help ensure the availability of your workforce. Depending on the nature of your workforce, this may be as simple as public service announcements on what the organization is doing in response to the situation to keep the employees and their families healthy. It could include providing employees with family care packages of hand sanitizer, wipes, soap or other items to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, which will provide your employee’s peace of mind as well as help prevent the infection of your wider workforce. Some organizations are even going as far as providing sanitized meals to the employees and their families to reduce the risk of infection.
- Co-locating critical resources. While not a measure for all organizations, if there are critical resources your organization cannot operate without you may consider co-locating those resources someplace where you can ensure their quarantine from COVID-19.
If your business continuity planning needs to be re-evaluated or processes are not operating at their most effective, Weaver can help. We can provide insight into the crisis response and business continuity activities that should be performed and help reengineer processes to ensure maximal functionality. Contact us with any questions you may have or visit our Risk Advisory or IT Advisory Services pages.
Authored by Morgan Page, CIA.
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