Having a Business Continuity Plan During and After the Pandemic
Millions of employers know that once the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided, it is time to get back to work. Many probably want to pick up right where they left off before the coronavirus outbreak, but the world we live in has been forever changed. How we move beyond COVID will likely not be how it was prior to the virus’ impact, and how organizations move forward is an important question to our economy and for the overall recovery as a nation.
This is why it is critical for any employer to have in place a Business Continuity Plan. This plan will guide employers, employees, stakeholders and consumers as we navigate a new world with new expectations, as well as challenges and uncertainties. But these obstacles and concerns can be mitigated with thorough planning that helps organizations recovery a step at a time over the course of weeks and months. Since the pandemic began, Xenophon Strategies has been creating several client-specific Business Continuity Plans that are tailored to their individual needs for short- and long-term protection and recovery from the pandemic, or other potential crises that exist.
If you are considering a Business Continuity Plan for your own organization now or for the future, it’s never too late to put one in place. Include below are examples of what a Business Continuity Plan does and reasons why it’s good to have one in place:
Helps Protect Your Organization, Staff, and Assets
The overall goal of a Business Continuity Plan is to help your organization stay protected during a crisis, such as the coronavirus outbreak. The plan should take into account all aspects of the organization – operations, employee safety, financials, properties, customers, stakeholders and resources – and how the organization will work through the pandemic with these factors in mind. It should also establish a recovery process that looks long-term at the assets listed above, and how best to ensure each is accounted for in returning to normal, or new normal.
Guides You Through a Crisis
It’s impossible to predict if and when a crisis will happen. Depending on the industry, some organizations see emergencies on a monthly or weekly basis, while others may never encounter a crisis (and that’s great). However, it’s always better to have a plan in place just in case a crisis, like a pandemic, occurs.
The point of a Business Continuity Plan is to ensure employers, executives, employees and other stakeholders understand how to navigate the short- and long-term challenges they may face during and after a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Operating Under New Restrictions
Whether they are informed by state or federal government guidelines, a Business Continuity Plan helps organizations plan how to run its operations under the challenges of new restrictions created by stay-at-home laws – should it close its doors, reduce hours, minimize staffing, implement teleworking, limit customer interactions, reduce services or product availability, is a hygiene station required, and more.
The plan can also help you determine for how long should the organization operate in a revised manner – closed for the duration of the pandemic, reduced hours for one month after the pandemic, returning to regular hours two months after the pandemic.
Establish Your Priorities
Try to imagine, or maybe you don’t have to, prioritizing the needs of your organization as soon as you heard a pandemic was coming and your state implemented new safety restrictions. Doing that in the heat of the moment does not allow for a thorough or clearly established set of priorities. But now that we are in the midst of the pandemic, there is time to establish what is a priority and what is not in how your organization recovers.
When determining your priorities, there are a few factors that should be weighed:
- Who should be involved in the decision-making process – owner, presidents, other high-level executives – will all want to contribute but we know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen;
- What processes or operations are essential to your organization and how should they function during and after the pandemic;
- What personnel are critical to your operations and need to keep working, and which are non-essential and can return after the pandemic; and
- Are there consumers, stakeholders, suppliers, partners or others that will be impacted.
Communications with Staff
Communicating with internal staff during a pandemic will be essential. They will most likely have several questions regarding their employment, as well as their safety.
A Business Continuity Plan can help you establish guidelines for communications and frequency of communications, as well as messages for employees and answers to several questions they may have as quarantine continues and ends.
Communications with Consumers and Stakeholders
Similarly, a Business Continuity Plan can establish communications practices for consumers and other external stakeholders of your products or services. Consumers for example may have questions about business hours, staff availability, or even hygienic practices being followed should they enter your building. Keeping your customer base advised of your business plans is essential.
Having these key areas in mind following the pandemic will go a long way for you, your staff and your consumers, and Xenophon’s COVID-19 Crisis Communication Response Team is available to help establish a Business Continuity Plan for your organization.
For additional information, recommendations or questions on staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit Xenophon Strategies’ COVID-19 Crisis Communications Response Team webpage at: https://xenophonstrategies.com/covid-19-response.
Getting Back to Work is an ongoing series on health and safety regarding COVID-19 from Xenophon Strategies, in partnership with Dr. David Hamer, a professor at the Boston University Schools of Public Health and Medicine with more than 30 years of experience in epidemiological diseases. Through the partnership Xenophon is working with Dr. Hamer to provide science-based recommendations and guidance on how employers, employees, and families should best respond to and combat the COVID-19 pandemic.