From employee health, business travel and remote work – to the first active signs of supply chain shortages – it’s time for the business world to address risks to business continuity as the novel coronavirus shows signs of pandemic-level impact. Here’s what we're reading.
Wash your hands.
Don’t touch your face.
How much will the novel coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, change our daily routines, in and out of work?
“Disruption to everyday life may be severe,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, cautioned at a news conference last week. “Schools could be closed, mass public gatherings suspended, and businesses forced to have employees work remotely.”
Last week we watched the stock market recoil against the coronavirus, undergoing a double-digit correction. We’ve gotten through a weekend where more cases are emerging across Europe in Italy, France (when will the Louvre Museum open again?), the U.K., and in the U.S., with Washington state addressing probable community outbreaks and Florida declaring a public health emergency.
The BCM team at SAI Global, with expertise in business continuity, crisis recovery and operational resilience, has provided a full set of tips and checklists for businesses.
More interesting reads on how the coronavirus outbreak promises to change our workweek:
- How can we keep track of the global impact of the coronavirus? Forbes writer John Koetsier took a stab, with a list of 27 Things the Coronavirus is Changing Right Now.
- Meanwhile, the WHO is going to the extent of making TikToks to tackle coronavirus misinformation, the same day it elevated its coronavirus threat assessment to the organization’s highest possible level, as Alyse Stanley wrote for Gizmodo; 2/28/20.
- Prepare to work remotely, writes Faye Flam in Bloomberg, among a set of tips on how to prepare (rationally); 2/29/2020.
- Review if travel is necessary – or worth it. At least check if that trade show or conference you want to go to is still on, or if the speakers or companies you want to meet are still attending. Facebook F8 is the most recent large conference that has been canceled; Barron's has compiled a long list of canceled events. That is, if your organization even allows you to travel – Amazon and Twitter are just two leading companies that have suspended employee travel in response to the spreading coronavirus.
- A crowd-sourced "Coronavirus & HR" Google doc is being populated with 100+ public company policies, communication plans, conference cancellations and other resources.
- Getting ready for the possibility of major disruptions is not only smart; it’s also our civic duty, writes Zeynep Tufekci in Scientific American; 2/27/2020.
- Bill Gates writes about how COVID-19 is "behaving a lot like the once-in-a-century pathogen" that we've been worried about. "We also need to make larger systemic changes so we can respond more efficiently and effectively when the next epidemic arrives," he said.
- Are organizations ready to face the effects of a pandemic? For those open to rethinking how the work would get done, are they ready for the inevitable post-crisis question: “Why don’t we do this all the time?” How do you prepare your organization to not only flexibly respond to this potential disruption, but also to use it as an opportunity to re-imagine work broadly? Harvard Business Review’s Cali Williams Yost explores the topic in What’s Your Company’s Emergency Remote-Work Plan?; 2/28/2020.
- Does your company have the capacity to support a mobile workforce? SAI Global expert James Green addressed the question as one of many business continuity measures that companies can put in play in Compliance Week.
- What’s in your collaboration toolbox to keep workers healthy and productive, asks Charlotte Trueman in Computerworld; 3/2/2020.
- How the coronavirus is creating A Watershed Moment For Remote Work, William Arruda in Forbes; 3/1/2020.
Pharmaceutical supply chain:
- Science-based publications such as STAT News are closely monitoring FDA updates on potential shortages in drugs and their API ingredients, medical devices and personal protective equipment; 2/27.
- Disruption may also be coming to the supply chain for U.S. Animal Drugs, by Chuck Abbott in Successful Farming; 3/2/2020.
- Coronavirus may or may not prove to be a health crisis in the U.S., but its impact on the production of pharmaceuticals could be serious., writes Joel Zinberg in The Virus and the Supply Chain, City Journal; 2/29/2020.
Global supply chain:
- The impact is already being measured in shipping ports in the United States. Coronavirus is impacting the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, seeing a 67% increase in canceled sailings from China, by Donna Littlejohn in the Press Telegram.
- COVID-19 is teaching hard lessons about China-only supply chains, 2/29/2020 in The Economist.
- How the coronavirus could Impact the Global Supply Chain by Mid-March, 2/28/2020 in Harvard Business Review.
- Coronavirus is actually more than a global health issue, says an Auburn University supply chain professor; he writes about what this latest development might mean for the strategic readjustment of supply chains across the global business landscape.
And, before we close – one more reminder, don’t forget to wash your hands. Is 10 seconds of handwashing as good as 20? Rebecca Onion answers soapy questions in Slate; 2/29/2020.
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) February 28, 2020
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Visit our pandemic information resource hub, which includes reading materials, podcasts, and other best-practice guidance around managing business continuity, compliance, and risk management amid the coronavirus pandemic.
SAI Global hosted a set of in-the-moment webinars on Business Continuity Management during the coronavirus pandemic, Resilience 2020. We covered best practices for BCP teams as well as insights from experts on remote work, crisis communications, and vendor risks in a dynamic supply chain. Recorded March 16-17, they're all available to replay on-demand.
See our health & safety resources for EHS professionals to monitor and ensure the health and safety of workers during COVID-19.
We have released a free “Ethical Tip” Video for Ethics and Compliance Teams to share with your entire organization, Five Best Practices for a Healthy Workplace. Details on how to download the video.