The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a very serious matter affecting businesses and communities around the world. Normal operations are likely to be interrupted for many. While you can’t prevent coronavirus from impacting your business, you can control how you respond. Preparation is key.
Use this checklist to prepare your business to weather the coronavirus storm. Gather your leaders and key decision-makers. Set aside some time to carefully consider these questions. The answers you provide are the first steps to forming a crisis communications and business continuity plan to help your company minimize the impact of coronavirus on your operations.
1. How can we protect our employees from becoming exposed to COVID-19 at work? What factors can we control? What preventative measures can we take?
Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises businesses to actively enourage sick employees to stay home, follow cough and sneeze etiquette and hand washing, and post those items in your workplace. Provide the items your employees need to stay clean.
2. When should we remove workers, customers or visitors from the workplace?
Isolate and send home sick workers as soon as possible, per the CDC and OSHA.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) gives guidance on preparing workplaces to protect against spreading COVID-19. Be sure to follow all local and national mandates regarding business closures.
3. Should we revise benefits policies to address employees who have been removed from the workplace? If we close our workplace(s) entirely, how should our benefits policies respond?
Contact your benefits provider to find out the details of your workplace policy.
Here are some additional resources:
EEOC: What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and the Coronavirus
HHS Bulletin: HIPAA Privacy and Novel Coronavirus
IRS: Notice 2020-15, High Deductible Health Plans and Expenses Related to COVID-19
4. Are our employees ready to work remotely? Do they have the equipment and access they need? Who can work remotely? Who must work remotely? Are managers trained in how to handle remote work environments?
The National Law Review published guidance for Teleworking and the COVID-19 Outbreak. They advise creating or upating your teleworking policy,
For equipment and software recommendations, check BBB.org to find BBB Acccredited Businesses who can help provide you with things like video conferencing and remote access software.
There are some great guides for setting up your home office and working from home, such as this one from Hubspot (a BBB Accredited Business).
5. Do we have a communications plan for delivering real-time public health messages to our employees? Do we have all of their email addresses, phone numbers and other contact information at hand?
6. Should we revise our policies around international and domestic business travel? Personal travel?
For the most recent guidelines regarding travel in and outside of the United States, see the US State Department advisories.
7. Should we cancel or postpone scheduled conferences, meetings and events?
Follow local and national guidelines. Many areas are mandating cancellation of events of a particular size. Consider your audience and whether the conference content is worth the risk of potential spread of the virus.
The CDC recently advised canceling or postponing events with over 50 attendees.
Be sure to honor all agreements promised to your attendees.
8. How will we communicate with our customers regarding coronavirus? What if we have an employee test positive for COVID-19?
Google has some great resources for small businesses on communicating with consumers and employees.
9. If we need a small business loan, how can we get help?
In the US, the SBA will work directly with state Governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted by the Coronavirus (COVID-19).