COVID-19 Pandemic: Business continuity planning

During crisis period, the intellectual resources of a business organization becomes more crucial for the survival and long-term continuity of the business. Business continuity and disaster recovery plans are being tested by rapidly evolving challenges, namely, travel restrictions, and as large-scale remote working becomes a reality (Accenture, 2020).
The spread of COVID-19 has proven to be rapid and difficult to control. Therefore, the means to contain it and actions taken ought to be equally agile and focused. Such actions need to be in line with the organization’s business continuity planning.

Empathetic Leadership and communications are two key areas that aid human resilience in difficult times:
(i) Adopt pragmatic, collaborative approach to help adapt to new ways of running the business and make things happen in a timely, empathetic manner. Recognition where due can help to improve well-being and engagement across teams – both locally and globally – which contributes to maintaining business continuity.
(ii) Emphasize a strong and active communications strategy when dealing with a major crisis. Communications to employees, clients, suppliers and partners should be rolled out as part of a phased approach. Following the initial priority communications, daily ongoing updates are recommended.
Accenture (2020) recommends the following actions for organizations looking to address what to do immediately, in the short and long term.
(1) Prevent: What to do now – take immediate steps to ensure safety and well-being of employees.
Prioritize actions that put your people first and exploit global business services offer:
• Enable people to work and connect with colleagues from diverse, safe and secure locations
• Create safe and secure working environments through regular sanitization
• De-densify workplaces by limiting the number of people working together, curbing large meetings and ensuring that protocols are followed in canteens, elevators and areas of common use.
• Limit all non-essential business travel and client visits.
• Align with local health and safety guidelines
(2) Prepare: what to do next – identify priority processes and establish a command center to manage virtual workforce.
• Take actions to meet the needs of key stakeholders: identify priorities
– Critical processes, including functions such as employee payroll, healthcare and supply chain (to keep goods moving and services ongoing).
– Highly important processes and other services such as payments and necessary services in healthcare, insurance and banking.
– Important / other processes such as order management and reporting.
• Establish a command center for a virtual workforce to measure quality, productivity, compliance, insights and intelligence, people engagement and workforce well-being.
(3) Predict: What to do for the long-term – be proactive and establish a comprehensive, customer – oriented plan that is sustainable.
Prioritize actions that will help you pre-empt the impact of volatility:
• Bring together highly skilled, distributed teams that can log in anytime, anywhere and deliver on customer commitments at scale.
• Build a broader ecosystem around the organization’s workforce to enable collaboration across a broader set of priorities – including health care and childcare. This will lead to improved morale and engagement levels resulting in better business outcomes.

Five steps to operational resilience
1) Establish a resilient culture: in a highly volatile world, being calm, dedicated and compassionate in all situations should be actively encouraged. Organizations should continue to execute work in a collaborative manner – with critical knowledge workers augmented by digital capabilities. Success depends on proactively addressing and managing critical situations through applying innovative solutions. Identify opportunities to adapt and reshape priorities and develop new business models to create an evolved work environment.
2) Create broader ecosystems based on social collaboration: move beyond employee workspaces to broader ecosystems that employees can access, such as healthcare or childcare. Consider how all these environments can be woven into new forms of collaboration with an improved sense of corporate social responsibility. How executives think and plan for employee expenses is likely to change to include home offices, childcare support etc. An organization’s workforce could include niche, skilled, flexible and part-time workers who form part of its broader ecosystem.
3) Employ agile, elastic work models: the best combination of working from home and office, depending on the nature and type of work and relevant skills required, can be enabled by technology, data, security, and cloud computing. Current investments in technology and the related infrastructure make such scenarios possible; in the future, this fluid approach is likely to become the new normal. Elastic workplaces using agile leading practices, align with millennial expectations – “log in anywhere anytime” – employment that focus on key priorities across business functions such as finance and human resources to resolve new or unexpected issues.
—–Cited from Accenture, Continuity in Crisis (2020).

To be continued…