Coronavirus headlined a recent ABTA webinar featuring a panel of experts on the impact to corporate travel and how to reduce its impact on business continuity, specifically in Africa.
If you were unable to join us, you’ll find the following insights from the event extremely valuable:
1. Stay up to date, using reliable sources of information
Avoid the panic associated with inaccurate information, including information shared on social media. Reliable and accurate resources include: World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Worldometer, National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) and Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).
In addition to using credible information sources, make educated decisions based on your own company and your environment, as opposed to employing a knee-jerk reaction based on what other ‘global’ companies are doing.
2. Create a communication strategy to inform staff
“If you have 2 or more staff members asking questions, your communication strategy is not strong enough,” says panelist Andrew Kelly. Panic will arise if staff feel the company is not doing enough to deal with the virus and putting contingency plans in place.
A strong communications strategy is vital and should employ every means possible (not just email) to communicate: intranet, posters, screensavers, Whatsapp, discussion groups and any other platforms that work within your company culture. Set your staff’s mind at ease that you are monitoring the situation closely and provide basic advice and insight into the plans you have in place which will be implemented if required.
3. Create remote working environment strategy
If staff need to work from home or be quarantined, create a plan now for what will be needed to make that happen. Consider not only your staff, but also business-critical suppliers who may not be able to operate if they are not based at their office.
The following requirements should be addressed:
- Which staff members would be encouraged to be home based (all or just some?)
- Are they able to be productive if not in the office – ie. Do they have laptops, access to internet etc?
- What measures do you have in place to communicate remotely? Ie. Skype etc.
- Do you have measures in place to curb abuse of the current situation by some staff?
Have a discussion with HR as to what measures they have in place to hold staff accountable for taking sick leave to ensure the company is not swept away by the crisis, with all standard procedures falling by the wayside.
4. Identify business-critical staff members
Although all lives are equally valuable, there are staff members who are more critical to the business operations. Identify all business-critical staff members as being at the front line of being required to take additional measures to keep themeselves safe, healthy and productive. This could be working from home, avoiding non critical travel, etc.
5. Identify and reduce non-critical travel
A blanket ban on travel is not advised and travel into non-affected areas could still continue to minimise the catastrophic economic impact of all business coming to a grinding halt. Encourage staff to make sound decisions and to carry on with travel to geographical areas that are not currently affected.
However, travel to affected areas should be strongly discouraged, specifically non-critical travel. Put measures in place to educate all staff that might have to make business-critical trips into affected regions.
6. Encourage good health and hygiene
Encourage staff to boost their immunities with flu shots, vitamin B injections, safe hygiene practices, etc. Perhaps consider having an external company administer some of these. Keep staff informed about the spread of the virus, washing hands etc. As with any other contagious disease, require all staff who are not feeling well to stay home, but continue being productive and working remotely if they are able to.
Should you wish to listen to the full webinar online, click HERE to access it.
This resource is free of charge for ABTA Members and non Members pay R 250 ($15).