Francesca Lanza Tans: Coronavirus measures

Coronavirus: the ten steps leadership can take to help vaccinate their business operations

The spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus has taken the world by surprise. What began as an isolated outbreak in China’s Hubei province has now turned into a global public health emergency. Most businesses will – even if they have not yet been directly affected – be considering what impact the virus will have on their operations; from the health and welfare of their employees through to possible business interruption issues caused by supply chain problems.

For CEOs and leadership teams tasked with the responsibility of navigating their organisations through these perilous waters, the next few months will provide a stern test of both themselves as individuals and of their collective ability to make the right decisions at the right times.

Ways to mitigate the coronavirus threat

To make sure you and your team are in the best possible position to meet the challenge, there are a number of practical steps that executive teams could consider for both themselves and their wider organisation. These measures include:

  1. The executive committee might consideravoidingmeeting in person to reduce the chance of multiple execs being infected
  2. External meetings with non-clients could be strongly discouraged – these might include with providers/suppliers
  3. Workingin shifts can be encouraged to reduce the overall number of people in the office
  4. People within the same “team” (e.g. sales teams, or country coverage teams) couldavoid direct personal contact with each other. This ensures continuity in case someone on that team tests positive for coronavirus
  5. All internal meetings could be prohibited – no exceptions 
  6. Flexible working from home should be encouraged wherever possible. Many companies are already “testing out” their remote working solutions by having each department work from home on specific days to ensure things run smoothly
  7. Travel for internal reasons should be restricted
  8. Travel for client meetings should also be highly restricted using conference call technology wherever possible. When that is not possible (for example during a due diligence ahead of an M&A transaction) strict measures must be taken to ensure there is no cross contamination between team members 
  9. Social/marketing events should be suspended or restricted
  10. Finance departments will need to double up on cash flow control; actions include limiting expenses and following-up on outstanding debtors/invoicing

Look after yourself

As well as these business-wide measures, leaders will also need to think about how they manage their own energy and health. This is a stressful time and leaders need to be thoughtful about how they look after themselves both mentally and physically. Taking external counsel can play a vital role here in helping to understand how other leaders and organisations are managing the situation.

At a time of crisis, there is a natural human tendency for leaders to allow the drama of events to subsume every other consideration. Being as objective as possible and looking at the situation holistically and strategically is critical, while also taking the time to be conscious of the anxieties in the business such as people worrying about their health and their families.

Look ahead

It shouldn’t be lost on leaders either that adversity can create opportunity and organisations will be learning over the next few months how to manage and operate in a very different way. It’s important to capture those learnings and use the insight from them to help the business be more effective when the ‘new normal’ arrives.