The Covid-19 pandemic raises a number of very significant issues for business continuity and even business survival. These issues include employee availability, supply chain disruption and social distancing. As companies return to full operations, they will have to adapt to a new normal with significantly changed business operating models.
Traditional business continuity responses, such as moving to a back-up site will not work during a pandemic. The problem will be with people being unavailable this time rather than technology being unavailable. Unlike a standard business continuity events, where restoring technology is the greatest issue, during a pandemic, technology can provide the solution.
To address the new reality, Crises Control has produced a white paper entitled “Helping your business to survive through COVID19 and beyond”, with advice for companies on how to meet the challenges ahead in the new world and take advantage of the unique opportunities it provides.
The white paper covers a number of pandemic related business continuity issues:
- The first issue is on employee availability. The UK government has estimated that up to 20 per cent of the workforce could be absent at any one time through sickness or quarantine. A report by Deloitte suggested that employee absenteeism in a pandemic situation, even if not actually sick, could raise this percentage to around 45 per cent. This impacts on productivity and deepens the challenge of managing supply chain disruptions.
- The second issue is supply chain disruptions. China, for example, generates around one quarter of the world’s output, including generic medicines used in the NHS and parts for mobile phones and computers. The previously unthinkable closure of national borders will have a profound and long-term impact on supply chain planning for businesses everywhere.
- Social distancing measures that have now been introduced meaning that employees who can work from home will be expected to do so, and those offices that do re-open will potentially have only 15 percent attendance. Business operating models will have to change as a result. The same is true of environments such as: hospitals, airports, transport hubs, stadiums, entertainment outlets, warehouses, factories and schools.
- There remains the possibility of a catastrophic impact for a business where there is a local outbreak, involving employees, customers or even family members, which could lead to individuals being quarantined and premises being closed. Equally the possibility of subsequent waves of infection will make planning for uncertainty and unpredictability key business issues.
A significant element of the new normal is going to be employees working from home where they can do so. There are benefits to this for both the employee and the Organisation. Less time spent commuting, less exposure to risk of infection and a more agile and resilient workforce.
But there are dangers too, that the employee may not be working in an appropriate work space, for example. Organisations have a duty of care to ensure that employees have a safe place to work as well as protecting corporate digital assets and complying with Information Security, Legal, GDPR and other requirements. Completed properly, the return to work at home will be accompanied by a site survey and risk assessment of the home office environment.