COVID-19 Communications and Business Continuity

Here’s what you need to do to keep your business operating in a pandemic environment:

1. Help prevent the spread of germs by limiting physical contact with coworkers

Social distancing is a critical component of the behavioural changes that must occur during a pandemic in order to limit an outbreak.  It is a strategy designed to reduce the amount of close contact between people and to rely on alternate means of work and communication in order to limit or avoid public gatherings.

Implementing this depends on the ability to alter how work is done in office, distribution centre and store environments.  Managers should receive training in social distancing and work on implementing these strategies in the event of a pandemic outbreak.  The key strategies to consider when integrating social distancing include:

  • If someone is sick, ensure they feel empowered to stay home.
  • Communicate information on social distancing to all employees and suppliers to advise them that these protocols have been implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Educate people you serve or work with about social distancing and that these measures are being implemented to keep them safe and reduce the risk of an outbreak.
  • Avoid shaking hands or other direct personal contact.
  • Use telephone, video conferencing, or e-mail to conduct as much business as possible.
  • Encourage employees who, based on their responsibilities, can work from home to telecommute.
  • Implement flexible or staggered working hours to limit the gathering of people; Allow staff to arrive early or late.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Educate staff about proper hand hygiene and other practices for preventing the spread of germs
  • Encourage staff to avoid social gatherings outside of work where they might come into contact with infectious people.

It should be noted that in the event of a pandemic, government agencies or other authorities may also implement social distancing strategies to curtail the spread of a viral illness like influenza.  These can include closure of office buildings, stores, schools, and public transportation systems.  In particular, public transportation and school closures could have a major impact on the ability of employees to travel or work.  These contingencies should be reflected in a business continuity plan.

2. Have a pandemic communications and business continuity plan in place in order to educate all the people who are important to your business about what you are doing, what they should expect in this new environment, and what may be expected of them

Implement a regular cadence of communications to update staff on ongoing issues related to the pandemic outbreak and provide information about new or updated protocols. And make sure staff are aware of channels through which to ask questions.


3. Put in place necessary precautions and preventative solutions (hand sanitizer at entrance/exits) and regularly disinfect common surfaces

Make this a specific responsibility of individual staff and set expectations for the timing and frequency of preventative cleaning.

4. Diversify supply chains

Evaluate what products are at risk of shortage that you can stockpile (paper for printers, etc.) and do so. And evaluate what products come from at risk jurisdictions and move your contract to a local supplier or a non-at-risk supplier, if possible. If not moving contract, order a backup supply from a domestic supplier that can be used later.

5. If a supplier of products that are also produced in at-risk markets, use this opportunity to out-compete your competitors.

The domestic transportation and reliability of good flow will become a competitive advantage. You can use that to gain new clients who then see your quality level, expertise, customer service, etc., and keep you longer term or for more contracts

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