How well an organization weathers the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak will depend a great deal on how effectively it cares for its employees. Business continuity planning and execution should pivot around helping employees with high-quality information about the virus, effective preventive measures, and how the business intends to operate during uncertain times.
The duration and impact of the Coronavirus, or Covid-19, is not clear. Uncertainty can lead to anxiety and a sense of helplessness for many people, as well as obstacles for business.
Besides from ensuring that employees have access to science-based data about the virus and know how to protect themselves with personal hygiene practices, it also helps to be transparent about how the business will maintain operations.
Here are some considerations specific to business planning and execution in the Covid-19 context:
- Have departments map out what lines of succession to follow if team or function leaders became ill or must quarantine themselves at home.
- Begin cross-training employees on key tasks — think about workflows and whether any single person has critical knowledge that should be shared about how work gets done.
- If someone in the office becomes ill, have a clear plan ready about who the person should call, where the person should go, how they will get there, and what the organizational response will be (disinfect area, keep co-workers home, etc.).
- Make it clear there will be no penalties for employees with coughs who stay home or those with compromised immune systems or other risk factors who feel more comfortable working from home.
- Consider a policy for employees who do become ill that requires them to stay home two weeks past the date of their last clearly negative Covid-19 test to ensure the virus has fully cleared their system. Current testing is not as reliable as our science advisors would like, so this step is an extra failsafe.
- Quickly spin up training programs for employees unaccustomed to working remotely or managing meetings or client presentations via teleconference.
- Ensure employees, where possible, are well equipped to work from home; also provide extra IT support for setting up home workstations. Test internet connectivity and bandwidth use implications; the connections will only be as good as the weakest link, such as a low-bandwidth home plan or a phone used as a mobile hotspot.
- Fully think through what it means to work from home — from mobile devices, security, personal images/artwork, etc.
While the Covid-19 endgame is not clear, giving people the tools to effectively manage its potential impact on their personal and professional lives will aid individual and organizational well-being. For more information, please also read Cognizant’s full text about coping with the pandemic.