Category All, Best Practices COVID-19: How to Plan for Business Continuity During COVID-19, it’s crucial to develop a business continuity plan. Follow these steps to ensure your business overcomes this crisis. May 11, 2020 By Sara Ana Cemazar Business continuity planning is becoming essential during COVID-19 pandemic. Many businesses are forced to rethink their usual practices and processes and cut expenses where they can. The underlying uncertainty of how long the crisis will last has a profound effect on business world. Many companies do not know what to expect in the following months. Furthermore, they do not know how to communicate the expected changes to their customers and employees. Take a look how world-famous companies are taking care of their employees during crisis. In this article, we will explain why it is important that you develop your business continuity plan as soon as possible. Moreover, we will give you important steps to follow while planning your business continuity. 📚 Check out our other resources related to current crisis, such as these tips to send your employees during COVID-19. Why Is Business Continuity Important Simply put, business continuity is a company’s capacity to continue its operation during and after a crisis. It may not seem necessary to have such a plan in place, but think of the profound impact COVID-19 has had on businesses and economies worldwide. After all, 48% of business owners do not have a business continuity plan in place. Yet, 40 to 60% of companies disrupted by disasters never reopen. However, you can improve chances of your company’s survival by developing a business continuity plan. Not only does the business continuity plan save you precious time to act quickly when the crisis hits, but it also gives you back the control over your business. Business continuity plan is an important document you will need in order to continue your operation and to develop your crisis communication plan towards employees and customers. 📚 Take a look at how to ensure your employees’ success during COVID-19. How to Develop a Business Continuity Plan When you are developing your business continuity plan, you want to think as broad as you can. Imagine all the scenarios in which your company might be affected by a certain disaster. Do not only include catastrophic events, but also smaller crises that could impact only a portion of your operations. Follow these steps to build a solid business continuity plan you can fall back to in case of emergency. 1. Consult with your team In order to get the most comprehensive outlook on your business and how it might be affected by crisis, you need to gather the most important members of your business operation. For example, head managers from sales, marketing, finance, HR and IT should be essential members of your crisis team. You want everybody’s input, but you also want to distribute tasks among your heads of departments so they can all coordinate when the crisis hits. 📚 Pro tip: consult your HR Business Partner to help you overcome employee-related business challenges during crisis. 2. Perform a business impact analysis Once you have assembled your team, you must analyze what are the weak spots of your business. This is an extensive step to follow, because first you must try imagining different scenarios in which your business is suffering. For example, COVID-19 crisis must affect different aspects of your business and in different volume than another purely economic crisis would. For example, this crisis has a big impact on employee experience. You have to plan your respond to it and not let the years of your HR teams’ efforts to make your company the best employer out there. Therefore, you need to identify your company’s theoretical pain points for all the catastrophes. Furthermore, you need to determine what would be the financial cost of the worst-case scenario for each of those pain points. Be thorough and include the most out-of-the box scenarios. After all, who could have planned for global pandemic? Do not forget about your vendors and third-party providers. Will you be able to plan on their support and business-as-usual during crisis? Considering how COVID-19 has challenged our workplaces and lives, think of your employees’ safety in the workplace, too. You have to provide essential medical training or advice, as well as safety equipment, to your employees. Here are some workplace management solutions you can use during current crisis. This scenario surely seemed impossible a few months ago, and it goes to show that being prepared for crisis can also save you money. After all, prices of safety equipment skyrocketed in the last few months! 3. Develop a Business Continuity Plan Once you know your businesses vulnerabilities, you should start developing a plan in form of an answer. What happens if a certain aspect of business cannot run at its usual pace? What if it is completely dismantled? How do we cut costs, how do our processes change, and who will be in charge? After forming a document with your team, present it to your stakeholders and ask for revisions. Also, run in through an official decision-making body in the company for approval, since you want to enact the plan as soon as the crisis appears. 4. Determine new service protocols If you are a service-based company, this is especially important. You have to plan for a stretch in your response time and calculate how much of it would mean irreconcilable setback. 5. Communicate your business continuity plan to your customers Of course, you do not need to disclose the full plan to all your customers. However, one of the staples of crisis management is crisis communication. The sooner you explain how you will react to this crisis, the better. Show empathy and humility in your statements and clarify how you will take care of your employees. Your customers will appreciate the sentiment and it will add to your employer branding efforts. 6. Communicate your business continuity plan to your employees Your business continuity plan does not have to be fully known to your employees. Some aspects of it might worry them without a cause. Just explain to your employees that you have a plan designed for such situations and that you are going to follow it. 📚 It is crucial to keep your employees engaged with proper communication tools. Find out how to create a workplace communication plan during this crisis. Announce the changes in business operation when they are due. Timing is key here – you do not want your employees to jump to conclusions, but you want timely reactions according to your business continuity plan. If you can, include your executives in your crisis communication. It shows transparency, involvement and leadership, which will minimize your employees’ speculation. Check out these emails to send to your employees during COVID-19. 7. Revise your business continuity plan As the time goes, encourage your team members to revise and perfect the business continuity plan you created together. If you already had a plan depicted, COVID-19 pandemic has probably given you new insight on how some aspects of it could operate better. What’s most important in your planning and revisions is to rely on data. Appraise the costs and other relevant indexes, such as customer service response time etc. Plan and approximate how low or high certain numbers can get in order to have control over your business in crisis. What Does Business Continuity Include There are particular documents that need to be included in your business continuity plan. Here are the examples of some aspects of business continuity plan: Crisis communication plan for customers, partners, third parties and employees Document explaining how services and products remain delivered in various events Employee support plan for different crisis scenarios What conditions need to be fulfilled in order to enact certain crisis protocols What conditions need to be fulfilled in order to restore the previous business processes Necessary technology for operating in crisis How the important data is backed up and secure in a disaster Relocation or remote work protocols Defined actions and their executors in cases of emergency, crisis or disaster How COVID-19 Is Disrupting Businesses and Their Continuity COVID-19 has impacted a lot of worlds’ economies and at this moment we do not know how long it will continue to make an impact. Companies are uncertain of their future, and so are the employees, who place job security on #1 spot of issues during COVID-19 crisis. This is exactly why business continuity plan is needed. This crisis has created many obstacles to businesses, but the ones that adapt the best will survive and learn from the experience. Let’s see how the pandemic is challenging traditional businesses. Inability to deliver services Many businesses are experiencing an operational ban during COVID-19 crisis. For example, in some countries all the non-essential stores were prohibited from working. Furthermore, even if they are not closed, the stores are reporting much lower income because people are mostly staying at home. Inability to travel Hotels, restaurants and all the rest of touristic objects are on hold. Since nobody feels safe or cannot travel, business related to tourism are deeply affected. This includes the bus, train and airline operators as well. Remote work The percentage of full-time employees working from home increased from 33% to 61% in the US. The challenge of keeping the same levels of productivity is especially hard for work from home parents. 📚 Read how remote work itself is disrupting the workplaces during COVID-19. Social distancing Some businesses have difficulties maintaining safety measures for their customers and clients. For example, personal services like hairdressing salons may have to take extra measures to ensure safety, which can be both costly and make their tasks with customers last longer than usual. Endangered wellbeing High anxiety levels, depression, insomnia and other are reported by many individuals during crisis. Under these circumstances, employees and customers may change their usual behaviors and therefore affect your business. Paused recruitment Many companies have paused their talent acquisition during COVID-19. However, businesses are adapting and recruiting online. Find out how to hire remote during this crisis, and check out our COVID-19 tips to send to your employees.