It’s a normal working day and suddenly your place of work is surrounded by people in Hazmat suits. Why? Because one of your employees has been linked to an infectious person with Coronavirus. You are told that all your employees are going to be quarantined and the premises have to be evacuated.
Inflamatory perhaps, but the fact is reactions to the Coronavirus, rightly or wrongly, are extreme and the effect on unprepared businesses could be equally as extreme.
Whilst this scenario is hopefully not going to materialise, businesses that prepare for the worst are going to fare the best.
So, how prepared are you? Here are five things to think about today:
1. Make sure you know the whereabouts of all your employees. Who is on a business trip and where, who is on holiday, on a work from home day, at a meeting, or at lunch?
2. Prepare clear instructions on how quarantine will affect employment terms. What contingencies do you have for working from home, personal device use, access to shared files?
3. Set out plans for an emergency client/customer communication centre so your business can alert clients if necessary, and so clients know what they can expect during this period and have access to people who can update them.
4. Scope out an employee communications centre so contact can be maintained with all staff, and open lines of communications are established with health officials.
5. Create a potential crisis press office to update key press so that they have accurate and up to date facts to control rumour and speculation.
Hopefully, your business will never be affected by the Coronavirus, or indeed by any crisis. However, your company's reputation is as important as the wellbeing of your employees (everyone wants a job to return to after all) and setting firm "worst-case scenario" plans in place will only strengthen and enhance the perception of your business and show your employees, clients and stakeholders that the business is ready to tackle whatever lies ahead.
Employers and employees alike are understandably nervous after reading daily headlines tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus, and the rising death count. Now that we have confirmed cases in the UK, this will only heighten. Every cough heard in the office, or on the commute in, will heighten concerns among employees, however unlikely it is that the Wuhan coronavirus is the cause. Employers need to give thought to the practical impact this could have on their workplace and plan accordingly.