Businesses around the world are starting to wonder exactly what the coronavirus (dubbed COVID-19) means to them, and how they should prepare for the virus if an outbreak happens closer to home.
At Cooperative Systems, we believe that the safety of our employees and customers is paramount.
We also believe that businesses should be able to work and be productive during these uncertain times.
So, we’ve created a 7-point list of things that your business and organization can instantly do to feel prepared as the coronavirus situation expands, especially when it comes to your technology and IT.
1) Update your systems, line-of-business applications, and network. As you may know this virus started in Wuhan just two months ago. In that time it’s moved very quickly through China and the rest of the world. It’s critical that you monitor official advice from local/regional authorities and stay safe through good hygiene practice. Speaking of monitoring and hygiene, it’s imperative that your employees can access the most current versions of your line-of-business applications during any disruptions, and that the software you use inside your business is up to date. If you haven’t already, your company should be moving as many applications to the cloud so you and your employees, contractors, and vendors can access the software systems they need so your business can operate efficiently.
2) Update your business technology plan. When was the last time you updated your business and technology plan? A BDR (business disaster recovery) plan is important during turbulent times, so ensure this is up to date. Make sure your BDR includes plans to allow employees to work from home for an extended period of time if they have been to an affected area and that they can access what they need to do their jobs. This may include critical business applications and line-of-business applications such as CRM, billing, operations, sales and marketing. You may need to figure out giving employees access to a VPN so they can access these internal tools.
3) Document your vendors and suppliers. This follows on from the last point and should form part of your BDR. In the case where you can’t logistically get certain materials and supplies, you’ll need to have alternate vendors and suppliers that can step in. If you’re in the manufacturing industry or healthcare sector, you’ll want to explore material and equipment suppliers in multiple regions. You should consider a network on the east coast and the west coast, and factor extra time for shipping since the virus may be a factor in causing delays.
4) Prepare your employees. For this point the CDC advises that you should ensure any sick employees can work from home and any policies regarding sick leave are highlighted. During this time, you should wary of someone coming into the office while feeling under the weather. A few other things you can do is ensure hand sanitizer is available at the door before an employee enters your office, soap dispensaries in the restrooms are full, and put up signs making sure employees wash their hands properly.
5) Share your plan with customers/clients. Your clients will feel far better knowing you’re prepared, and you can share your plan through your website, blog posts, etc. If a client asks about it, you will want to ensure your sales department can take them through the plan and reassure them.
6) Get to know your neighbors. A strong local response if there’s an outbreak is important both on a personal and business level. Ensure your neighborhood businesses are okay, and in doing so you may end up finding new suppliers or customers locally while they’re having issues with their existing ones. Being a great neighbor is important during turbulent times.
7) Identify help. If an outbreak happens in your area, you’ll need to monitor your employees, and your own health and report any issues immediately so authorities can help. Thermometers may be useful for this as you can screen employees yourself. Don’t forget to tell the authorities about your neighbors and check up on the elderly or those with underlying conditions around you and your business. Again, being a great neighbor is important in running and growing your business. It’s not always about technology.