COVID-19 has been a catalyst for many organizations to address business continuity failings; with just under a quarter (24 percent) of companies currently in the middle of drafting an initial business continuity plan, according to a study by global consultancy firm Mercer.
Mercer’s ‘Business Responses to the COVID-19 Outbreak’ survey shares insights from over 300 companies from 37 countries.
The survey also found that 27.2 percent of companies do not have a business continuity plan in place at all and are not developing one.
Actions and plans in relation to COVID-19 identified by the survey include:
- Working from home or working remotely is a crucial factor for many companies, with nearly half (42 percent) currently encouraging employees to work remotely, particularly in highly affected areas. An overwhelming 92.2 percent of companies have said that working from home remains their option of choice during an office closure.
- Most companies are monitoring the situation with WHO and local government advisories, while remaining cautious of the possibility of evacuating employees and their families from areas affected by the virus. In the event of an evacuation, two-thirds of companies (63.4 percent) surveyed stated they will continue with employee allowances in varying durations and depending on the employees' role within the company.
- Businesses have vastly reduced unnecessary travel and are weighing in on banning travels globally, particularly to areas highly affected by the virus. More than 80 percent of the companies that have required employees who recently travelled to highly affected areas apply an isolation period, where they work from home, are still paying their employees for the duration of the quarantine, reiterating companies focus on maintaining employee health and safety.
Many employees rely on their employers to monitor and assess the situation and share key findings with them, meaning that organizations have the opportunity to support their employees through:
- Gathering information from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and government entities, while fact-checking the news and sharing information frequently;
- Following government guidelines;
- Reviewing business continuity plans and ensuring they are up to date;
- Listening to the concerns of the workforce;
- Treating employees equally and considering impacts to different populations. For example, while expatriates could be evacuated to their home-country, local employees may remain. Businesses should consider this impact of this;
- Providing protection or prevention supplies.