Pandemic preparedness and response planning is an integral part of any organisation’s business continuity program and resilience journey.
Recent outbreaks have highlighted how severe the impact of an infectious disease can be on an organisation’s business operations, people, customers and supply chains. Pandemic planning can assist your organisation to mitigate the negative impacts of outbreaks and provide confidence to your stakeholders and people in operating safely, outside of a business as usual environment.
If you’re unsure of where your organisation sits within this journey, use this page as a guide.
The Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, situation develops every day. We recommend that you take a five phased approach to be able to prepare and mitigate the worst-case scenario for your organisation. These are in line with the New Zealand Government and Ministry of Health’s own guidelines. Follow these below to understand where your Pandemic Response Plans fits, unique to you.
The five phases are:
- Keep It Out
- Stamp It Out
- Manage It
- Recover From It
- Validation / Review
Keep It Out
As with the New Zealand Government’s policy on travel bans to try to stop, or more likely, delay the spread of COVID-19 in New Zealand, you as an organisation also need to work with the idea of ‘keeping it out’. This would be activities which are designed to limit the possibility of the disease entering your workplace. Which will protect your staff and your and the ability of your organisation to continue to operate. So, increase communication to staff and third parties about the disease, its progression and symptoms, increasing awareness of the importance of hygiene and social distancing. Additionally, implementing travel bans to areas known to have high infection rates.
Are you succesfully keeping it out?
How to contain infectious disease
Acting fast is your best approach, but you must do this by following plans you already have in place. The immediate action if a member of staff is infected is to initiate a work from home strategy. Single out the staff infected and study how many (if any) other staff they’ve been in contact with. Ensure authorities have been contacted and work with them to utilise their resource on containment. If you find that key staff members have been infected, ensure you have options to continue their roles similar to as you would if it were the common cold. Who do you have trained and skilled to take over their responsibilities? Have you reasured your stakeholders of these plans?
Isolation at work
Work groups put into pods.
Travel & WFH
Cancel travel and invoke work from home policies.
Make them available to everyone.
Stakeholder & Comms
Ensure the correct people are kept updated.
Stamp It Out
Your organisation may well have experienced its first, or several, staff members becoming infected. At this point you should still be trying to prevent the spread of the disease within your organisation as you could, Stamp It Out, as well as limiting the number of new cases. Singapore has instigated strict policies that all employees must have a negative temperature check to be allowed into a workplace.
To do this, implement your Pandemic Response Plan. This should include all of the activities from Keep It Out as well as (but not limited to), increasing the travel ban to a complete ban, using video or teleconference for meetings, self-isolation of staff if they believe that they have symptoms, as well as introducing work from home options. Also, internal contact tracing of staff members who could have infected other staff members.
You are in the Stamp It Out phase if:
- You have had some cases of the disease in your organisation but not widespread infection.
- There is infection in your community but not widespread.
Is your organisation in a Stamp It Out phase?
Manage It is the phase where infection rates within your company reach the highest rates, the workforce may be depleted, and operational functionality may be impacted.
At this point your Pandemic Response Plan should be fully implemented. Everything already stated above actioned, as well as work from home practices wherever possible, increased cleaning around the workplace and regular communication to staff and stakeholders.
Please note that while masks may help an infected person to not spread the disease as much, a mask does not remove the risk an infected person poses and there is no evidence to suggest that a mask will stop you getting the virus.
You are in managment phase if:
- You are dealing with a continual spread of cases to new countries you trade in.
- Seeing an increase in community spread (local transmission as opposed to imported cases) in affected areas you service.
- Starting to see significant supply-chain disruption including delays, bad communications and dropped orders.
- Heightened media speculation about the social impacts in Australia and New Zealand, causing fear and concern within your team. (This may cause a spike in annual leave or sick leave).
- Increase in absenteeism from employees who place themselves into self-isolation or decide to stay away from work for fear of contracting the disease.
Have you in the Management Phase?
Recover From It
This is the phase where the disease is abating in New Zealand due to vaccine or the natural progression of the disease. For your organisation, this may mean staff coming back to work, standing down measures like travel bans, and returning to business as usual practices. Members of staff who have not been infected and have been working through the outbreak may require some leave as they have been carrying larger workloads than normal. It is also important to remember that those who have not already had the disease are still vulnerable to encourage them to maintain high levels of personal hygiene, work from home practices and avoiding travel where possible.
Are you in the Recover From It phase?
Validation / Review
These are not traditional phases, but we believe that they are critical. Especially as Southern Hemisphere organisations have a short window of time to prepare.
Validation, this is where you test your plans to ensure they are viable. For instance, get everyone to work at home for one day. See how systems function with the load of all staff working remotely. Or, maybe look at the succession planning within your plan and test those who may ned to act up to ensure they are capable and have the delegations required.
You are in validation mode if:
- You’ve identified a window of opportunity to test your people and plans.
- The board has requested feedback on the strength of your plans and procedures.
- You have acknowledged significant gaps and time since last testing your plans.
- The current situation is outside the scope and specialisation of your current plans
Review is the important practice of having experience professionals look at your plans to review what you have written. They will look at both the overall structure to make sure that you have included the relevant sections, and also the detail of those sections to make sure that you have not missed important strategies. Review can also include a post-event review which aims to understand your plans, how you implement them, pros and cons of that implementation, and how well you responded as an organisation.
Organisations who undertake an independent review of their plans are more likely to implement plans which are robust, complete and fit for purpose.
You need to be in review if:
- You’ve actioned and tested plans but want to ensure they are complete.
- You have confirmed the infection of staff and initiated your plan but have concerns about its adequacy.
- You have not been affected by any of the above but have been made aware that the virus is local to your organisation or has arrived in your country.
- Are in the Recover From It phase and wish to understand and improve you plans for the next time you need them.
Consider Business Continuity Technology
Our BC-3 tool is recognised by Gartner as the leading BC software on the market. This has been proven by the increasing number of clients currently active on the tool as the Novel Coronavirus threat increases. This tool is praised by multi-national, multi-location organisations of considerable size and dynamics. For those of smaller scale, our award-winning CQCommand is also proving effective during this crisis.
Get the resource to help
Every week, our CEO and co-Founder, Daniel Shields is building and releasing a bulletin on the Novel Coronavirus. In this, he’s gathering his own research, industry expertise and organisational response techniques to provide readers with up-to-date, reactive content to consider every seven days. Our obligation free resource dedicated to providing clarity on COVID-19 is available now.
Get a second opinion
Very few organisations can say they’ve confidently acheived the four stages. In fact, our biggest clients still contact us for review and support in what to do next. Our industry experts are dealing with organisations all across the world deal with the Novel Coronavirus.
By following the link below, you can get obligation free advice from our Senior Consultant on what to do next, and how RiskLogic can help.