For nearly 30 years, Australia managed to escape an economic recession.
During worldwide financial catastrophes like the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 and the Global Recession in 2008, Australia managed to keep chugging ahead, earning the nickname “the wonder down under.”
In the wake of COVID-19, the region was beyond troubled. Both Australia and New Zealand were projected to experience a combined 8.2% contraction, affecting millions of people.
As things finally get moving again, one thing is clear — global disruptions like pandemics are the new normal. Whether it’s the current crisis or the next one, we need to be prepared for disaster.
Here’s how to create a continuity plan for your business.
Before we begin…
Before setting off on a plan, you need to have a firm grasp on these essentials:
- Can you do business outside of your office?
- Where are your employees located? Can they work remotely?
- How do I reach vendors and suppliers?
- What are your monthly overhead costs?
- What’s your existing credit line?
- How is your current liquidity and access to capital?
- If your company provides a trade service, can you still deliver services in the current environment?
- What are your alternative sources of revenue?
As you draft your plan, keep in mind these three core values: communication, flexibility, and education.
Shift to remote work as much as possible
The world is a very different place than it was a few months ago. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that remote work is no longer be optional –but foundational.
Before the crisis, 70% of Australians worked remotely at least once per week. Now’s the time to push for even more.
Whether in times of pandemic or not, create the flexibility your company needs to operate remotely with tools like:
- High-quality web hosting
- Websites builders to easily do redesigns and keep your online platform running
- SSL to protect customer information and other transactions done on your website
- Communication tools like Team Viewer, Microsoft Teams, etc.
- Cloud Backup to protect your data in case of hardware failure, malware attacks, online breaches, etc.
Strategise for non-remote capable jobs
Unfortunately, not all jobs can shift to telecommuting. When that is the case, create plans for these roles. For example, ecommerce sites may still need staff to pack and ship orders.
Find ways for essential employees to have access to personal protection equipment like masks and gloves. Limit all staff to those necessary. Regularly perform health checks.
If your company delivers services, check to see what can still be performed safely. Once again, protective equipment is vital.
Create a remote access program
Now that you’ve divided your team into remote/non-remote, it’s time to ensure the remote staff has the access they need. This begins with their own ability to get online.
Disasters can interrupt internet connections in areas for both employers and employees. You’ll need to invest in technology like mobile hotspots and data plans to keep your company going.
Ensure all employees have these devices so they can keep working throughout the crisis:
- Mobile hotspot capability and data plans
- Remote work devices like laptops and tablets
- Remote access to the company network and cloud resources
- Security tools to prevent hacks like VPNs, password managers, and two- factor authentication.
Before disaster strikes, verify your staff has all these devices and software tools. If not, help them source what they need.
Create a new set of performance metrics
In a chaotic environment, it’s much more difficult to track employee performance. For example, how well can you track sales if all your contracts are on hold?
Remote work makes it particularly challenging to establish metrics since managers do not directly observe employees.
Your metrics have to be as flexible as the working conditions. Above all, remote work discourages the notion of hours based performance evaluation.
As helpful as time-tracking apps are, if possible, move to a results-only approach based on output.
Continuity is only possible through communication. Crises create so much confusion. One of the biggest concerns for your employees is the status of the jobs.
As a business leader, it’s up to you to set the tone and provide as much clarity as possible. Of course, this can be challenging in rapidly changing situations, but regular updates do much to reassure your employees.
Take advantage of the variety of communication tools at your disposal to reach out to stay both as a whole and individually.
You don’t have to do all this yourself. Delegate some responsibility to senior-level staff who can help spread the message that the business is still operational.
Likewise, now’s the time you’ll lean on productivity tools. Microsoft 365, Slack, and Asana are all essential for staying on top of projects to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Don’t forget to periodically check-in with employees on a personal level. Simply asking if somebody is doing okay goes a long way in keeping connected. It will also help you stay informed in case an employee has to take a leave of absence due to the situation.
Business Continuity Plans: Communication, Education, Flexibility
The coronavirus pandemic has a difficult time for all of us. But it is possible to learn and grow from it. With the right business continuity plan, you keep your business agile, adaptable, and ready for whatever comes its way.
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