The Coronavirus continues to spread and the impacts are beginning to be felt beyond borders as economic realities and woes begin to surface. Businesses that aren’t affected already are about to battle a wave of illness whether containment measures succeed or fail. Businesses around the world are already battling misinformation and fear but what are the actual behaviours and measures businesses can put in place that will stop the spread of the disease? Here’s a list of smart things businesses can do to help themselves and employees.
1) Fight misinformation by informing your staff of the symptoms, risks and procedures from a central voice. Keeping abreast of news and advice from World Health Organisation, CDC and reputable sources is critical. Advise individuals to pick their sources of information carefully and recommend they do not share unsanctioned information on internal social networks. One voice is critical when handling issues like disease spread.
2) Fight the spread. Increase remote work wherever possible and quarantining those at risk, make sure to have a plan to keep people checking in and friendly reminders about travelling and attending high-risk activities like mass sports events and international events and conventions. Increasing use of tongs, decreasing open candy jars and making sure sneeze guards over food will also help slow the spread. Other technologies will help business slow the spread of the virus (and misinformation) if used correctly.
- VOIP technologies like Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom will help remote workers
- SMS messages will be seen fastest
- WhatsApp groups can be used for quick communications and allow multimedia communications like mass calls, video and link sharing
- Task boards like Asana will help people understand and maintain workflows while juggling remote workers
- Healthy food delivery services like Fresh Fitness Food and HelloFresh can be used to boost the health of workers from the inside. Avoiding fast food will maintain energy levels when at the office and at home.
3) Introduce/implement high-level executive travel procedures. Whether this means no travel or separate planes to minimise the risk to business continuity, businesses need to think ‘big red bus theory’ with infectious diseases. Updating contact numbers and procedures is also a high priority. Updating security on devices that are being taken offsite is also a good policy to implement and review now.
4) Review pandemic policies – most will never have even been looked at. Technology and multiple clauses will likely need to be updated and possibly implemented. From hand-washing stations to anti-bacterial gels and masks, introduce and present the right information in the right way and you’ll add calm and not fuel more dread.
5) Keep the compassion alive. People’s health is a primary concern and it is easy to go into survival mode and avoid, ostracise and stigmatise even the mildly sick in times of epidemic. Keep the use of imagery flowing and plan to protect and empower. Positive attitudes and open minds stop issues turning into crises. Keep morale high whether people are remote working with regular senior figure videos and empowering words and imagery in communications. Avoid using stock photography of viruses and opt for softer imagery and employ a graphic artist to create business appropriate images that work for you and not against you.
Coronavirus is impacting industries across the world and the current numbers show a spread that warrants the term pandemic. While some leaders downplay the spread for economic reasons to keep daily life as normal as possible, the inevitable spread of disease comes from a lack of discipline as much as the strength of the virus itself. Businesses can’t protect themselves totally from the effects of human illness but they can lessen the effects when it happens.