Pandemic Preparedness, Response, and Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic caught many businesses off guard and has devastated many businesses and disrupted numerous industries. The businesses that have remained productive either had disaster preparation and recovery procedures in place or they quickly adopted them.

This pandemic has taught us all many different things, and one of those lessons is that it is important to think about and prepare our businesses for even some of the most unexpected disruptions. As a takeaway from that lesson, there are several things that you can do to help your business recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen your business response for any future occurrences.

Strengthen your leadership team

It’s important that you properly arm your leadership staff to be able to handle unforeseen issues. It’s highly unlikely that you will be able to predict when a situation like COVID will arise, but you can (and should) prepare in advance for the chance that it does.

Proper disaster response requires more than one person—you need a team. And to build a disaster-ready team, you must start by preparing and empowering your leadership team.

In order to strengthen your leadership team’s ability to handle these issues, you must ensure that they’re:

  • Provided with a plan/guide for what to do in emergency situations
  • Taught how to recognize potential threats and emergencies
  • Prepared to properly communicate risks to and with the team and know the best communication channels to communicate quickly
  • Aligned with your company’s plan or strategy for risk management so they can execute it and make quick decisions that support the overall strategy

With a leadership team trained in disaster identification, response, and recovery, the leadership can then train their teams on what to do in a disaster event. By preparing the entire team, you can ensure that everyone knows their role in the event of a disaster and that the business can continue operating smoothly.

Strengthen your emergency supply chains

If you prepare your business for disaster but don’t ensure that your suppliers and vendors are also prepared, you are leaving your business exposed to a risk that may be unmanageable by the time a disaster occurs.

Imagine—a disaster occurs, and your vendors are no longer operating. That means you are no longer operating either once your supplies on hand run out. And in an emergency, any available vendors are going to be fully booked and/or have markedly higher costs associated with the increased demand from other businesses needing new vendors.

This is why it’s important to ensure that your business will continue to have access to all the equipment and supplies needed to continue operating as closely as possible to normal operations before a situation occurs.

You can do this by ensuring that you:

  • Have clear documentation for all the supplies your company needs, how much of them are needed during all times (including times of highest and lowest sales), and information on how those numbers change (with seasons, times of the year, etc.)
  • Have discussed disaster preparation with your venders to be sure they have procedures in place and could continue operations during a disaster
  • Have backup suppliers and contacts in the event that your main suppliers are unavailable

Strengthen your sanitation practices

Though COVID-19 is spread through the air, it is also spread by contact with contaminated surfaces. As a matter of fact, a large percentage of illnesses and viruses are spread by hand contact and could be reduced with basic sanitation and handwashing procedures.

By increasing your in-office sanitation routine, it will help prevent and control the spread of future illnesses, including COVID-19, to protect your employees and vendors. This can be done by increasing the frequency of office sanitations, hiring a sanitation company to do regular and deep cleanings, and educating employees on proper environmental and self-sanitation efforts and practices.

Strengthen surveillance and management

Putting surveillance measures in place to recognize new issues, conduct critical diagnostics, and continue with successful case management will ensure that your business is able to detect potential disruptions and prepare for them in advance.

At the start of COVID-19, the businesses who used early news reports of the virus as a way to start preparing for the what-ifs saw much more success than those who took a wait-and-see approach. By waiting to plan what to do, many businesses were left without viable options.

Although emergency situations and disruptions cannot be predicted, they can be strategized. By planning in advance, you can take steps to ensure that your business is prepared to handle any unexpected issues to continue operating at the fullest possible capacity.

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