A Business Guide to Preparing for the Coronavirus
Updated: Mar 13, 2020
As of March 11th, the World Health Organization has officially declared the coronavirus to be a global pandemic. The snowballing impact has started gaining momentum and all industries can expect to see varying degrees of impact on their business over the next few weeks and in certain cases, months! This is an opportunity for all businesses to review the strategies and procedures they have in place to protect employees, customers, and operations in this and future epidemics.
Here are several best safety practices that any business should be implementing, no matter the industry.
General Business Preventative Action:
Instill effective hand washing policies. Make sure you and your employees are using proper handwashing techniques as prescribed by the CDC. Hand washing is one of the most effective means of illness prevention.
Flu shots - Your employees’ health and wellbeing should be of utmost priority. Regardless of customer facing roles, your employees interact with other employees Ensure preventative measures by encouraging them to take their yearly flu shot. Providing free flu shots is a great way to reduce the number of sick days as well.
WFM Policy - Recent studies have found that the median time between coronavirus exposure and symptom onset was 5.1 days, and 97.5% of people who became ill did so within 11.5 days of exposure. This means that most infections can be determined within a 14 day period. If possible, allow your employees to work from home during this critical time.
Depending on the nature of your business, you should brace for a certain degree of impact.
Local Businesses - Expect a drop in attendance and a rise in deliveries/pick up services over the next 2-3 months. Many mom-and-pop restaurants have made the decision to close shop for a few days as the stagnant business is suffocating daily operations. Consider reducing front-of-house operating hours while maintaining back-of-house operations in conjunction with delivery services. Pair up with multiple delivery services to maximize opportunities.
Industrial Manufacturing - Most supply chains either originate or have roots in China. As China is the most heavily impacted, it is inevitable that your entire vertical will see heavy impact. Communicate with your entire supply chain to ensure that the moment operations gain traction, there won’t be a delay in materials availability. Consider using this lull in activity to focus on your people and train them in hard skills that will be useful for vertical growth. Think about creating a business continuity plan.
Corporate/Tech - Most coronavirus cases are popping up in Santa Clara and San Francisco via community spread, infection from an unknown source. Because the cause is unknown, it is difficult to quarantine and contain the infection spread. As a result, many bay area tech companies are instilling a Work From Home policy from now until April 10th. Many companies are turning to Zoom and other conference tools to continue business remotely.
Healthcare - Ensure that your staff is in the best possible condition by encouraging them to take sick and rest days as needed. They are the frontline responders for any pandemic. Check your supply closet to make sure you have the necessary equipment to deal with any situation.
Fitness and Lifestyle - Infected fitness enthusiasts could turn gyms into hubs for the disease as damp conditions are the perfect breeding ground. Expect a decrease in attendance and make sure employees and gym users are wiping down every time after equipment use.
Education - Expect class cancellations and an increase of online classes and programs. Teachers should consider using webcast to record lessons and other services to livestream lessons with active chat and engagement opportunities.
Government Municipalities - Don’t wait until the first casualty before declaring a state of emergency. Consider every possible situation and cancel large public events and gatherings until further notice. You can expect the community to be in low spirits. Raise morale by staying positive and working towards long term goals.
We at SWA wish you all safe journey through the next couple of weeks. For more information on how you as an individual can protect yourself from getting sick, check out our tips and tricks in An Individual's Guide to Preparing for the Coronavirus.