COVID-19

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Description generated with very high confidence

Business Continuity Management System:

Pandemic Actions

for

Covid-19 / Coronavirus

Prepared by Biscon Planning

Version 1.0 March 2020

Background:  

These notes refer to situations where large numbers of staff are absent from the office at the same time due to the Virus, either through their own indisposition or the indisposition of a dependent or dependents. The absences may be repetitive due to external influences (e.g. school closure) or because the individual has been infected and then subsequently absent on further occasions because their dependents are infected. 

Scope: 

The virus can affect people of any age group. However, people who are over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of developing a severe case of Covid-19 and those who have underlying health issues are most at risk of dying. Children, on the other hand, don’t appear to get as sick. As at writing, very few develop the disease in the first place, and if they do, only a small group develop severe or critical disease.

Procedures: 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has a scale which it increases if the disease is becoming more threatening to humankind or the seriousness of the outbreak is escalating. Information is available at www.who.int

Key advice will be based on the concept of ‘social distancing’. As the virus is thought to be transmitted in saliva, particles shouldn’t be able to travel great distances. As well as direct contact, it is possible to transmit via a third party, e.g. door handles. 

The government has imposed restrictions on the assembly of large groups, e.g. sports crowds and public transport with schools closing. International travel is also restricted or completely barred. 

What can you do? 

It is worth considering at the outset that it will be very difficult to avoid exposure to the virus.

Generally, in terms of social distancing, think about where and when you have large assemblage of people, and how you can avoid this. Examples on first knowledge of the virus include: 

  • Working hours. Many people generally enter and exit the building together when they all have the same working hours. Consider staggering the working hours of each floor or department, so that there are fewer people entering or exiting at any one time. 
  • Quarantine floors. Whilst face to face contact is useful to many business processes, is it essential? By isolating each floor from any other you may help to limit the spread of the virus. 
  • Lunch arrangements / Coffee bar arrangements.  Consider staggering lunch hours to limit the number of people together at any one time. There are likely to be additional Health and Safety measures imposed. 
  • Video/voice conferencing. Can traditional face to face meetings be conducted by video/voice conference? 
  • Meetings. Eliminate meetings wherever possible. If face to face meetings are unavoidable consider the use of face masks (ensure there are adequate disposal facilities for used masks), although the effectiveness of them is unproven. 
  • Charity shops. Consider closing shops or at the very least, providing suitable protection for staff. Cleaning of donated items would also need to be robust.

Specific early actions defined by Business Asset (before any stay at home or school closures by the government)

  • People 
    • Urge caution and best to report symptoms asap 
    • Reintroduce handwash gels etc 
    • Think about agency staff / freelancers who may be outside of the scope of your comms and policies 
    • Think about parents and also staff looking after elderly – can they be allowed to work from home for a period? 
    • Test any staff SMS cascade now to make sure that it is being received by everyone 
    • Appoint a lead for monitoring human resource levels and cascading / escalating relevant information 
  • Self-isolating
    • Will people be allowed to self-isolate with no symptoms showing either themselves or from colleagues? Premises 
    • Think about increased cleaning for e.g. the lifts, canteen, meeting rooms etc 
    • Close public access to offices / reception areas but point people in the direction of alternative means of communication with the organisation
    • Consider security of the building if closed for prolonged periods
    • Does home working comply with Health and Safety policies, especially over a prolonged period?
  • IT / Data 
    • Home working – are staff taking laptops home as a company policy? Double check your Citrix licences 
    • Remote access. Do you know for certain that if all staff were home working that there is enough bandwidth for concurrent use? 
    • Do staff have access to the relevant files / folders if homeworking?
    • Is the data secure if staff are using their own computers? Can sensitive data and conversations be overheard by people outside your company?
  • Transport 
    • Technically networks could be closed, but it is probably more relevant that the fear factor of the Bus, Train, Tube etc may come into play – answer – remote working. 
    • Do you need a policy on business travel? There is little you can do about personal travel. 
  • Suppliers / freelancers 
    • Can you check the polices of suppliers who are visiting site?
    • Can your suppliers still maintain a supply of critical items? 

Also consider enhanced cleaning schedules. This need not be through external cleaners, but through education of your work force. Alcohol wipes and handwash provide an effective deterrent to the virus, and staff should be educated in their use. If you are likely to use these, it is worth remembering that as soon as it is mentioned in the press, stocks will run low nationwide. 

You should also record all procedures that you put in place, and how staff are informed. Whilst one would hope it is unlikely that you would be challenged after the event, it will be helpful if you can show that you have discharged your duty of care to all staff. 

You will also need to appoint someone to monitor the situation and give early warnings where staff levels are falling dangerously low in any area of the operation. This should not only cover absences but also monitor the progress of recovery (when are people likely to return to work, if they or their dependents are hospitalised, deaths of employees and / or dependents and appropriate support and counselling). Forecasting should be considered and transfers from less critical to more critical posts planned, for identified capable individuals.  

Other Points to Consider 

  • Government advice has changed to allow for the closure of schools in the event of a flu pandemic. You should have an idea of how many of your staff would be required to care for children who could not attend school, or where other childcare arrangements ceased to function. 
  • Consideration needs to be given to not just staff with children of school age. Any staff with dependants of any sort will have to be given sufficient flexibility to care for their dependants and reduce likelihood of spread of pandemic to a minimum. There is also the issue of whether or not staff will be able to work if they are supervising children. 
  • Home working. Whilst your IT infrastructure may support home working, do staff have the necessary equipment or space to work from home? How will this be impacted if schools are closed? 
  • Impact on infrastructure. With many industries predicting absence rates of 50% or higher, you need to be aware of the ‘bigger picture’. It is impossible to predict, but consider issues such as withdrawal of public transport, ongoing planned or spontaneous loss of utilities, perceived shortage of staple foodstuffs (lack of products in shops is more likely to be an effect of transport problems and panic buying). 
  • Perhaps most importantly, whether people will want the services we are supplying. There is no point being up and running if you have low demand from clients in a similar situation and in turn their clients. In any event it is important to involve your staff in this exercise – as well as demonstrating to them that you are planning for them; they are one of your greatest resources! 

Specific later actions defined by Business Asset (after stay at home, lockdown and school closures announced by government)

  • People 
    • Will remote workers be allowed time off for childcare? 
    • Do you need to double up now on staff resourcing critical activities due to childcare? 
    • Are you in a business where you need to increase staffing, for example home deliveries? 
    • What training or procedure documentation can be provided to enable a multi-tasking workforce?
  • Premises 
    • If you are in a multi-tenanted building, have any other tenants had a Covid-19 case/outbreak? 
    • Think about what security arrangements are in place for a two to three month closure. 
  • IT / Data 
    • Agile working – do you will have sufficient quantity of licenses / secure access to the network for critical staff, including those who have carer responsibilities. Do they have the appropriate equipment (e.g. laptops, phones, payment card readers) and access to Wi-Fi? 
    • There are already reports of mobile networks and the Microsoft Teams facility struggling. Can you use landlines, Skype, Google Hangouts or WhatsApp as alternative forms of communication if staff are home working? 
  • Transport 
    • Consider your reliance on Logistics requirements, particularly fuel. It is difficult to estimate but you need to be thinking about specific scenarios, for example if the Oil Refineries close down due to staff shortage. 
    • Keep a few vehicles with full tanks available
  • Suppliers / contractors / freelancers 
    • Seek alternative suppliers / contractors required for maintaining critical functions now 
    • Are you able to maintain supply if your business is in retail? 
  • Finance 
    • Do you have clients that are at risk of going under? What is your situation with creditors? What is your insurance cover? 
    • Will you need additional liquidity from a bank?   
    • Issue further credit-cards where needed to enable crucial spend to be immediate 
    • What is the impact of Sterling trading at a 30 year low? Are your cash transactions as you expect from abroad? Have you correctly hedged FX?
    • Is there an impact on investments / pension funds from the stock market and interest rate falls?


Incident Management Team – Covid-19 Meeting Agenda 

  1. Names of attendees and any team members not successfully contacted / apologies 
  • Agree Chairperson / Lead and Loggist / Admin role
  • Latest situation report (SITREP) of pandemic 
  • Known Business Impacts
    • Business Critical Activities / Functions
    • Human Resources
    • Supply Chain
    • Facilities / H&S
    • Equipment
  • Likely timing and contact for next report from Government. 
  • Initial extra management resource allocated
  • Likely extent of outbreak at this stage
  • Extent and types of media and social media attention. 
  • Communication
    • Confirm methods of communication
    • Confirm stakeholders who need communicating with
    • Agree message for various stakeholder groups
    • Spokesperson appointed / confirmed
  • Which specific Plans to be activated
  1. Agree organisation response to impacts on various areas of the organisation
  1. Teams to define immediate needs in terms of: 
  • Accommodation
    • Special requirements   
    • Telecoms  
    • Suppliers / Supplies   
    • People   
    • Computers / ICT Systems  
    • Transport   
    • Finance
    • Need for additional resource to provide immediate needs. 
  1. Insurance Assessment
  1. Advisor appointed. 
  1. Date and time of visit to site to verify facts and plan future action. 
  1. Recap of action(s) to be taken by each team member
  1. Location / method of communication for next meeting
  1. Date, time of next meeting. 

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