At the outbreak of the COVID-19 crisis, more than 70 percent of employers admitted not having a pandemic plan in place. That glaring lack of planning suggests that your clients might not be as prepared as they think to resume normal working operations, now that the conversation has shifted to business recovery.
Why does insufficient recovery preparedness matter? Well, far from flipping the “on” switch, executing business recovery tactics takes careful planning. Otherwise, unaccounted for risk will sink the effort. How to help your clients through the process, ensuring they mitigate and control attendant risks?
A challenge of post-crisis recovery is that it is poorly understood. Sure, your clients might undertake best-practice, crisis mitigation and response measures. But they often think that those measures alone will be sufficient to effect an efficient recovery.
So, what should be the goal of recovery? Well, according to international business continuity management system standard, ISO 22301, recovery aims to restore and return business activities from the temporary measures adopted to support normal business requirements after an incident.
To make that transition happen seamlessly, your clients will need to allocate resources and capabilities to the effort. Key among those will be the recovery plan.
The goal of the recovery plan is to help your clients respond more efficiently to an incident or crisis, by shortening recovery time and minimizing loss. Aimed at rebuilding, reemployment, and repair, the recovery planning process is meant to give your clients the opportunity to deeply consider how they will get up and running after the first wave of the COVID-19 crisis crests.
What are specific actions you can suggest to help your clients rebuild and restore? These three essential actions for COVID-19 recovery come to mind:
1. Bringing facilities back up to safe-working order. For many of your clients, full business recovery will require a return to vacated worksites. But most regulators are requiring enhanced cleaning and disinfection of work premises before staff can return on site.
Not just that, organizations will have to account for the likelihood that once back on site, workers will test positive with COVID-19. In that eventuality, your clients should be ready to once again vacate the premises and allow for another round of deep cleaning. Jurisdictions might even mandate these enhanced cleanings and disinfections after persons who have entered the facility are suspected of or confirmed to have COVID-19.
Even before employees test positive, your client’s recovery plan should provide concrete actions, like routine environmental cleaning and disinfection, to maintain a safe working environment for employees. Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, further actions might include:
- Regularly clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, keyboards, telephones, handrails, and doorknobs.
- Dirty surfaces should be cleaned using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection using products certified for use against the novel coronavirus.
- Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible. If necessary, clean and disinfect them before and after use.
- Provide disposable wipes to ensure commonly used surfaces remain clean.
2. Make a determination on who will come back to work to effect recovery. It might be ill-advised for your client to bring its entire workforce back to work all at once. So, if they opt to stagger re-entry as part of the recovery process, they will need to determine which group of workers will return first – typically, employees whose roles are more reliant on on-premise resources.
Another wrinkle: it might not make sense for your clients to reintroduce whole functions back to the office at once. Instead, your clients might consider segmenting teams, then reintroducing those segmented teams in stages.
3. Take action to protect health and safety. As mentioned, many measures will be mandated by relevant health authorities – so constant access to best-practice guidelines (WHO, OSHA, CDC) for safe workplaces will be necessary for your clients. Many of the stipulated actions, there, concern hygiene, distancing, and wellness monitoring protocols.
Indeed, local health authorities are likely to have already recommended a set of actions, such as avoiding large gatherings and maintaining distance (which will mean closing down communal spaces like breakrooms and cafeterias). As an alternative to work-related mass gatherings, your clients might consider video and teleconferencing – or when those alternatives aren’t practicable, holding meetings in open, well-ventilated spaces as suitable actions.
Your clients might also consider handing out personal protective equipment to employees, in which case they should monitor their stocks – the CDC provides a burn-rate calculator which should be part of the recovery toolkit.
Finally, for many of your clients, COVID-19 has represented the sternest test to business viability. Now, as the rates of infection slow, even decrease, it is understandable that they are keen to return back to normal as soon as possible.
Remind your clients that returning back to normal after a major disruption is not as simple as flipping a switch back on. It takes time, effort, and planning. Technology helps, too. In order to support our customers and the broader community, we've developed Noggin COVID-19 Response Modules with business recovery features – free for our partners to access, so as to bolster the response effort of their clients.