The world is grappling with fighting a virus threatening to grip more and more victims every hour. Our homes, our workplace, are all under threat. While families are trying to keep their members safe, companies and other professional organisations are doing everything they can to tide over this unprecedented crisis.
The biggest concern for any company is how to keep your employees safe while ensuring operations do not suffer. Companies which turn a blind eye to this threat or don’t do enough, put lives as well as their workplace at risk.
If one sees it purely from the standpoint of business continuity, one needs to keep a reserve team of professionals in place and equip them with required technical and operation support. This TEAM B – named so because they form part of PLAN B – should be in a position to take over if TEAM A gets quarantined.
All organisations and teams must have PLAN B in place. And the only way to test it is to put it into process, on a small scale for trial purposes, as soon as possible. To wait for apocalypse to hit and then roll out the contingency plan is of little consequence. Trials have to run earlier which may throw up issues which then have to be solved quickly. All these take time. The sooner the companies act on PLAN B, the more effective they are likely to be when disaster strikes.
In many cases, there may be a need to devise a PLAN C, should there be a failure of PLAN A & B. When companies get into contingency planning, they prepare for a worst-case scenario too. What COVID-19 has done is to push all organisations into preparing for exigencies. The most professional corporations have plans and processes already in place. The best companies plan for it even when things are hunky dory.
It may not be possible for organisations to prepare for all scenarios. Dealing with a pandemic will be different from handling a natural disaster. However back-up plans can be tweaked and tailored from situation to situation, if some sort of a plan, is already in place.
When companies plan for such exigencies, the life and work of their employees are likely to be disrupted. While some amount of disruption may be unavoidable and understandable, care must be taken to think about the individual too, wherever possible.
While working from home can be an option for some companies; in others, only a few teams can do so while the bulk needs to be present at the workplace, necessitated by process, workflow and technology. There could be instances of employees who may need to be parked at home but their area of operation may not allow them to productively contribute from there. It serves no purpose to ask them to work from home if they cannot be equipped with the tools and systems required to function. It’s much better to let them be on standby at home or allow them to go on leave.
This is not an easy situation for any company to deal with. To be stuck in a scenario where the business is likely to be hit with no clear visibility of when the worst will be over, and still be expected to come up with employee-friendly measures, is easier said than done. Take for instance, the company needs to send an advisory to all employees to avoid public transport to and from work. This would mean arranging vehicles to pick and drop these employees which will involve additional expenses. How long is this period likely to be is tough to say. To do so at a time when your revenues are likely to slide is not easy. In such trying and testing circumstances, keeping one’s employees safe while ensuring business continuity is the need of the hour. Those companies who are able to do both will be truly successful.