COVID-19 Business Continuity Strategies

Where are we Now

COVID-19 business continuity strategies are on the minds of all managers. As we move through the crisis, we continue to help new and existing customers get the compliance training, consulting, and risk analysis they need to sell their products around the world. Many clients want to talk about preparing for the future and reducing business risks. Business continuity is once again on many manager’s minds. Risk management is once again a very relevant topic.

This week I had the chance to read several articles by Patrick Ow. Mr. Ow is an international risk management writer with over 25 years of experience across a variety of industries and companies. He wrote several books on risk management and most recently articles on practical COVID-19 business continuity strategies.

Risk Management & Business Continuity

With his permission, I am republishing excerpts from three of his articles over the next weeks. He will also be our next guest on the next BlueCircle Advisors Compliance Hour podcast. The podcast will be produced and ready early next week.

This first excerpt focuses on planning for your work, workforce, and workplace during the current COVID-19 crisis. Ideas like building a threat map dashboard and employee deployment and mobility database are worth noting.

Excerpt from “Checklist to develop your practical COVID-19 business continuity strategies (and next steps) by Patrick Ow.

“Here are some practical considerations you need to make in developing and implementing your COVID-19 business continuity strategies for your organization or business, or even for yourself.

If you already have some form of business continuity plans already developed, execute them. Otherwise, you have to take a practical short-cut and use the information below to flexibly develop your next steps as you go.

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the culture of workplaces, how people distribute work and deploy workforces, and how employers engage with their employees.

In a time of crisis, trust is paramount

This simple formula emphasizes the key elements of trust for individuals and for organizations in times of COVID-19 crisis:

Trust = Transparency + Relationship + Experience

The first priority should be safeguarding your employees — their immediate health and safety — followed by their economic well-being. This includes focusing on addressing employees’ psychological stress.

Focus on your work, your workforce, and your workplace.

Directors’ duties

Directors need to constantly assess the foreseeable risk of harm to employees and their business including non-financial risks such as reputational harm and compliance with laws, to satisfy their directors’ duties.

Boards and management teams will need to understand the impact of COVID-19 risks on their business and, where relevant, develop and implement contingency plans.

Directors of listed companies will also need to consider the continuous disclosure ramifications of COVID-19.

Identify members of your management response team for COVID-19

Apart from the CEO, select/nominate members from your senior management team to be part of the COVID-19 management response team. Then assign clear responsibilities.

Establish emergency response teams right away in order to assess the risks and formulate response strategies after conducting robust scenario planning, which significantly improved the epidemic response mechanisms and toolkits.

Create subteams to manage specific work streams such as communications, legal, finance, and operations.

The team’s responsibilities can be summarized as follows:

  • Acting as the single source of truth for issue resolution.
  • Ensuring that sufficient resources are deployed where and when needed.
  • Coordinating actions across the work streams of all teams, based on scenarios and triggers.
  • Aligning team leaders on scenarios, with the help of round-tables and other exercises as needed.

Establish a COVID-19 Response Coordinating Group

The group will comprise of key operational representatives from IT, finance, operations, customer service, etc.

The purpose of this coordinating group is to steer your organization operationally, serving as an important central information center, managing risks, issues and responses, and aligning all internal stakeholders by centrally coordinating all internal COVID-19 responses and projects. This will give a coordinated and integrated approach to your organization’s internal COVID-19 response, thus avoiding duplication of work and efforts across the department.

The coordinating group can serve as the main source of information and a single source of truth where members discuss matters, creating communication and action plans, and aligning with key messages.

The coordinating group could focus on the following deliverables:

  • Creating a threat-map dashboard — using digital tools to create threat maps with real-time data imported from internal and public sources. For instance, location and numbers of employees working from home, list of critical services/functions/activities, critical employees required to perform critical services, and non-critical employee availability and mobility.
  • Establishing an employee deployment and mobility database — Linked to (a) above, this database will capture skills and availability data from employees across the organization to facilitate a centrally coordinated staff deployment approach.
  • Developing an integrated COVID-19 response plan — the coordinating group will get updates from key internal stakeholders — ideally, at least twice a week. Its members can then integrate these reports into a plan to ensure that all groups coordinate their efforts and follow best practices.
  • Establishing a risk and issues log — while a threat map will make many risks visible, it will not capture every important development. If employees, teams or functions become aware of any additional threats, issues, and risks, they can immediately log the information in a database accessible to all employees, allowing the coordinating group to respond quickly with interventions.
  • Establishing a ‘self-declaration’ work from home database — this database will discharge the organization’s responsibility under the applicable OSH requirements and employer’s duty of care for the provision of a safe working environment, even whilst working from home. Employees have an avenue to provide a ‘self-declaration’ that they have complied with all working from home policies and requirements, whilst ensuring that their homes are safe for carrying out the organization’s work.”

As always, you can reach the BlueCircle Advisors’ team by going to our contact page and dropping us a message:

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Stay safe!

by Kelly Eisenhardt

Subject Matter Expert, Product Compliance & Technology – Kelly spent 20 years working in IT technology, environmental software design, and product compliance management for EMC/Dell Corporation, Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC), and Fair Factories Clearinghouse. She specializes in compliance consulting, training, and compliance automation. She co-founded BlueCircle Advisors in 2014.

SCIP Notification Duty is Jan 2021

SCIP is a new substance database created by the European Union to drive suppliers and manufacturers to better track harmful chemicals in products before they are recycled.