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With a vaccine now in the offing, many of your clients will be tempted to turn the page on the pandemic. But those companies who failed to remember the business continuity lessons of prior pandemics like SARS and H1N1 condemned themselves to repeat them during COVID-19. Now it’s your job to keep your clients from repeating the lessons of COVID-19 in the public health crises of the future.
COVID-19 business continuity lessons look a lot like those of prior epidemics
The early evidence suggests that concrete business continuity steps were taken in the wake of SARS and H1N1. For one, business resilience tools flooded the market. Add to that, national and international standards-making bodies put out and subsequently revised best-practice management system requirements in all of the leading fields of incident management.
What happened, then? It turns out that business continuity preparations for the depth and length of disruption brought upon by the COVID-19 crisis were patchwork and incomplete.
Take pandemic preparedness. Going into the COVID-19 crisis, companies were highly confident in their crisis response capabilities: nearly 80 percent were confident in their ability to handle health scares, according to a 2018 Deloitte survey.
The top COVID-19 business continuity lesson: have a pandemic scenario plan of sufficient length and depth
The lesson that came out of the century’s earlier epidemics, however, was that planning wasn’t enough, especially relying on broad-based, generic plans. Instead, your clients needed to develop targeted scenarios then test those scenarios. In that crucial respect, they were fundamentally unprepared.
More than 70 percent of businesses lacked pandemic-specific emergency plans at the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, according to employer survey data. Even the majority of companies that had business continuity plans didn’t plan for protracted scenarios: 48 percent had plans that covered two to three weeks of emergency operations, while fewer than a quarter (22 percent) had plans that covered contingencies for more than two months.
The impact of not having a pandemic business continuity plan in place
How did this lack of planning play out for clients? Well, when lockdowns came, many weren’t able to outfit their remote employees with the appropriate technology. Again, according to the data, only 37 percent of companies reported having the right technology in place for employees to conduct critical operations from home in the event of an emergency. On the other end of the spectrum, nearly 20 percent of companies said that none of their workers could do their jobs from home due to a lack of technology equipment owned and distributed by the company.
Of course, many of those companies consented to their employees working on personal devices. However, the short-term productivity boost was quickly offset by the surge in cyber attacks – your client’s newly remote workers hadn’t received sufficient cyber security training to protect informational assets from enterprising hackers.
How, then, to internalise these lessons, so as to help start building your client’s resilience for the next pandemic? Here, at Noggin, we have some ideas. Interesting in partnering to combine your expertise with our software applications?
Learn more about becoming a Noggin Partner and request to join the program here: www.noggin.io/partners