In the current climate, you cannot turn on the news or view social media without acknowledging the emerging threat of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China. This has become a rapidly evolving situation.
The Chinese authorities appear to have acted swiftly to try and contain the spread of the coronavirus. But their main source of doing this has been to limit people’s movement. This has included closing whole cities and infrastructures, including public transport.
If these restrictions were to be enforced in the UK, what will the impact on your business be? If your village, town or city is placed on lockdown tomorrow, can your business still run successfully? For example, local authorities stop the usage of public transport. Schools are forced to shut for an indefinite period, Have you considered how would these actions could impact your workforce and ultimately your business?
Based on available evidence, the current risk of coronavirus to the UK population is low to moderate. However, the government have issued a warning of “national challenge facing the UK”. Subsequently, they are due to announce plans to help curtail the spread of the virus. They are also looking to release a public information campaign to communicate important details to the public regarding ways to help reduce the spread of the virus, including but not restricted to:
- Avoid unnecessary travel
- Encourage working from home
- Retired doctors and nurses being asked to return to work
- Cancelling public events, e.g. football match, music concert
- Locking down major cities in the event of a significant outbreak
- Emergency government powers to help control Coronavirus
While the chances of being affected by the virus at present are slim, the risk and spread of the virus increases daily. We have compiled a list of useful tips when thinking about how to prepare your business in the event of such contingency.
- Prepare and Communicate – produce or test your disaster recovery plan. In the event of the closure of the business, do all your workforce understand what they need to do, who is in charge and what is required from them?
- Meetings – consider using Microsoft Teams, or other video conferencing solution, as an alternative to face-to-face meetings, this will reduce exposure.
- Ensure your contact details are up to date. – it is important that you have numbers and email addresses saved in your phone or on an offsite accessible database. This isn’t just for managers. All staff need to ensure they have up to date contact details kept in a safe place.
- If you have emails on your phone, tablet or laptop, ensure your emails are working on each device. Now is the time to ensure you can easily access and keep in contact with work colleagues from home.
- If you are using a laptop from home, ensure you can access all systems and information you need. This should be tested robustly as soon as possible.
- Ensure you have enough data on your phone/tablet to be able to carry on your work tasks. If you are tethering from a data connection, ensure you have enough data allowance to see you through the month.
- Check your office phone system can divert incoming calls. A robust phone system should have an element of disaster recovery built into it. In the event of the office being closed, consider to who those calls are to be diverted to. Your telecoms provider should be able to advise on this.
- Regularly clean desktops, screens and handsets; restrict access to help prevent the spread of germs.
If you need any further advice or would like to discuss how your communications are set up for such contingencies, we’re more than happy to discuss this with you. You don’t even need to be an existing customer; we are happy just to help and give general advice.
We encourage every business to plan for all eventualities.
For further information on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Visit NHS England website at https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/eprr/coronavirus/
Advice and guidance on reducing the risks of disruption from the COVID-19 virus to you and your business from the Federation of Small Business, visit Here .