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Crisis management and business continuity in the face of a pandemic

The appearance of the coronavirus puts Spanish companies in check

 

On March 11, World Health Organization raised the public health emergency situation caused by the COVID-19virus to the level of an international pandemic. Three days later, Spanish government has declared a state of alarm to prevent further spread of the virus among the population. Such is an exceptional situation in which we find ourselves Such is an exceptional situation in which we find ourselves

Of course, companies are not oblivious to consequences of this pandemic. Coronavirusis testing resilience and resistance of our companies, both SMEs and micro-SMEs, as well as large companies in the country; Although, decisions and initiatives taken vary depending on the activity and the sector in which we find ourselves.

What companies are doing to maintain their Business Continuity?

All actions must be aimed at preserving the primary objectives of any entity in this situation: safeguard the health of peoplewho work in the company, preserve continuity of its activities, services and products.

Can be expected that companies with a culture in risk assessment and treatment, crisis management and business continuitywill be better prepared for these types of scenarios and, therefore, have been able to react more quickly and effectively than entities that do not have these management tools.

Then, we will talk about different measures that are being taken by Spanish companies, although the application of these actions largely depends on activities and available resources of each entity:

Hygienic measures

Based on recommendations of the Ministry of Health, these measures are intended to limit transmission vectors within the organization. Specifically, the need to clean hands frequently during the workday is being communicated internally, avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth directly with hands as much as possible; When coughing or sneezing, cover mouth and nosewith a disposable tissue or, failing that, with the inside of your elbow, maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between colleagues and avoid physical contact. avoid physical contact.

With regard to initiatives related to objects and installation, a good practice will be to avoid sharing office supplies between people. In activities where it is necessary to share tools and work tools, whenever possible, gloves should be used during their manipulation and the working instruments should be disinfected before and after each use.

For several days, some companies have begun distributing disinfectant gels and masks to workers who may be more exposed to the virus. In addition, a fairly widespread initiative has been to increase cleaning services to ensure periodic disinfection of contact surfaces.

Operational and mobility measures

Although hygienic measures are of vital importance to limit the spread of coronavirus, additional measures are required in a work environment, since day sometimes takes place in closed spaces and with large numbers of people at a close distance.

One of the most recommended measures for companies is the implementation of necessary resources so that staff, whose functions can be performed remotely, can work from home without suffering the level of their activities. Obviously, for many operational positions it will not be possible to carry out telework, but a good part of corporate services, such as departments of Finance, Information Technology or Human Resources, will be able to work from home, without lowering the level of service. It should be noted that, according to INE data, only 7.5% of those employed occasionally carry out telework.

It is also recommended that all face-to-face meetings be canceled and replaced, if possible, by meetings via telematic means. Dining rooms can also be a focus of transmission, so appropriate measures must be taken.

Regarding organization of operational work, situation can lead to changes in work shifts, avoiding contact between people from different shifts or even avoiding total contact between critical company personnel and other people.

Supply chain

A crucial part of some companies corresponds to the activities carried out by external personnel. In these cases, regular communication with suppliers must be carried out, in order to ensure supply and minimum service levels, even more in these moments of crisis. Companies with Service Level Agreemeents with their suppliers (SLAs) will have greater security to guarantee minimum supply services compared to other companies that do not have these agreements.

On the other hand, subcontracted personnel operating in our facilities must be informed of the measures to be carried out in the same way as internal personnel and must be provided with the necessary safety and hygiene resources.

Communication and crisis management

Communication initiatives have great importance for the information and awareness of people regarding measures to be followed and about the disease, promoting early detection of a possible contagion. A good practice will be to extend the recommendations to the staff for their domestic life.

Communication to personnel must be carried out according to defined channels and must be bidirectional, guaranteeing that people can resolve their doubts and can provide relevant information (such as symptoms or possible exposure to virus). Of course, information must be updated regularly based on official sources and transmit a message of reassurance, despite exceptional state of the organization, to prevent the general panic from starting.

Of course, information must be updated regularly based on official sources and transmit a message of reassurance, despite exceptional state of the organization, to prevent the general panic from starting.

Companies familiar with Business Continuity, have organizational structures to act in these scenarios. This is the case of Crisis Committee, which will be made up of decision-makers with necessary knowledge and authority. During a state of crisis, this Committee should meet (preferably remotely) at least once a day to assess changes, learn about staff availability, supplier service, customer deliveries, etc.

Ancillary matters during pandemic management

Although we are faced with an exceptional situation, a company must not forget its obligations to its workers, who may be indirectly harmed during a scenario of this nature.

For example, those in charge of organization must remember that, according to the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPD), medical data is considered sensitive data and, although the Regulation establishes that the treatment of these special data, without consent of the interested party, it may be necessary for reasons of public interest, such processing must be subject to adequate and specific measures in order to protect rights and freedoms of individuals.

On the other hand, if decision is made to carry out telework, company must provide necessary resources so that people can carry out their functions as normally as possible from domestic sphere, and adequate requirements must be ensured to maintain Information Security and avoid a possible incident related to confidential data. In any case, it must be considered that teleworking is an optional measure that must always be agreed between the company and the worker.

There are also entities that, due to their activity, have a legal obligation to provide information to certain regulatory bodies. T his would be, for example, the case ofCritical Infrastructures, which must report any possible incident that may compromise the integrity of their activities and of the people who carry them out.

Conclusion

As can be seen, there are different initiatives that a company can anticipate in order to face global epidemics, such as the one we are experiencing with coronavirus COVID-19. An organization that has implemented effective Business Continuity processes will be duly prepared, not only in epidemic scenarios such as the one we are experiencing, but also in other crisis and disaster scenarios, such as accidents, fires, inclement weather, cyber-attacks, sabotage, terrorism, etc.

It is clear that we are facing an exceptional scenario, which will be a severe blow to global economy. Time will tell if companies are really prepared to ensure business continuity in the face of a pandemic.

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