If there is one thing that can shove politics off of the media stage, it’s a health crisis like Coronavirus (COVID 19). Last Tuesday, I wrote an article about Coronavirus and Business Continuity Planning for small and medium sized businesses. This blog post led to many calls to me by clients and business leaders.
Since Tuesday, much has transpired as I write this on Saturday. I’d be remiss if I didn’t address this issue on Extra Points. Consider this your public service announcement; please feel free to share with both individuals and business leaders.
Note: I originally wrote this early Saturday. In that time, we’ve had the first death and multiple new cases within 25 miles of where I live. A high school in King County has now closed on Monday due to a new case. In flux is an understatement! I’ve had to make several edits.
COVID 19 is neither hoax nor cause for hysteria. As is most often the case, extremes on either side of a debate or issue are problematic. In my role as a risk consultant and advisor, this crisis has garnered my full attention. In the course of writing this, the first person that has died from COVID 19 has occurred less than 60 miles away from me. I like to listen to scientists and medical professionals that have no dog in the political hunt. In fact, if you want to skip the US political football, check out news on COVI 19 on BBC. Just saying. Here’s what you need to know…
You don’t need me to recount all of the facts about COVID 19; you can find these in legitimate news sites that recognize scientists and doctors that have the expertise to speak knowledgeably. This missive is to offer preventative measures and best practices to both individuals and business owners to help safeguard people and protect business continuity and growth.
  1. Take the same preventive measures you would for the flu or other viruses transmitted through the air or close contact. Wash your hands more often with soap and water. Like more than you think. After all engagements with people, either wash your hands or at least use an alcohol-based (60% or higher) hand sanitizer. You can’t overdo this.
  2. Shake hands less. Seriously. While it’s a large part of our culture – especially in business – it’s a really good way to spread any disease. While I know this is extremely hard to do, even an occasional head nod, wave, or bow can reduce your risk because you have no idea where those other hands have been.
  3. Avoid touching your face. As a guy who often struggles with allergies, this is hard for me. However, it’s been clearly stated by medical professionals that touching your face increases the risk of contracting any virus, including COVID 19.
  4. Stay away from people that are sick – coughing, sneezing, etc. Business owners, encourage employees to stay home if they are sick. No matter what the situation (pandemic or not), sick people make others sick and your workforce can’t afford that…literally.
  5. You don’t need a mask, unless…you are showing symptoms of being sick or are a health professional. Health professionals are a given; the mask might actually be more dangerous if worn by healthy people who don’t know how to properly use them. Why? They are touching their face more to eat and talk by phone or to others.
  6. In business, consider how even a small local outbreak might affect your business. Do you hold or attend events? Should you increase inventory or stock in case something happens that could prevent deliveries? Are you in retail or hospitality and would be hurt by people limiting their excursions? Every business owner and executive must consider and thoughtfully create a plan for business disruption.
  7. CEOs, add pandemic to your Business Continuity Plan. If you’re my client, you’ve either already heard from me or will this week. If you’re not a client, call me and we can at least have a conversation on how you get started – no obligation. The need to safeguard the health of employees, assure that they can keep working, and to protect your balance sheet is critical. Many of you reading this don’t even have a Business Continuity Plan. Now is the time to create one to include all risks that threaten the value and viability of your business. I’m happy to help provide guidance. Email me if you’d like to discuss.
The “probability” of contracting COVID 19 in North America being low is not conclusive. There simply isn’t enough data or time to be credible. As a risk professional, I’d consider this a moderate risk, which is equivalent to many other perils we take for granted daily (including driving your car in any major metropolitan area). This isn’t a time to hide in your house and not go out. It’s also not a time to be reckless. There is a difference between “survivalist” and preparedness. Choose the latter.
Qualitatively, this crisis feels different to me. We’ve seen other pandemics in the past, yet this one creates a reasonable level of concern because at this timing and uncertainty of how it spreads.
Don’t panic; be proactive. Talk to your employees. Allay their fears. Educate them on best practices. Create a plan just in case it gets worse and could negatively impact your business. Look at near term air travel and hotel stays thoughtfully. Consider the priority for your business and your level of risk.
Pandemics are like any other broad crisis. Be prepared and ready. Identify ways to prevent, respond, and recover as both a business and as individuals.
Be unleashed – and safe.
Quote of the Day:
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.”
~ Robert Byrne
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