SAI Global’s expert on business continuity, James Green, spoke with BBC World Service’s Nigel Cassidy for the BBC World Business Report about how coronavirus is changing how we work, and how companies are trying to keep it together.
Listen on BBC Sounds starting at 2:55.
Cassidy notes that as the coronavirus spreads, SAI Global joins its clients in having to practice what it’s preaching. “We have restricted non-essential travel. We have certainly increased employee awareness about best practices for hygiene. We have encouraged people to work from home [if they’re sick],” Green said at the top of the broadcast.
“Certainly, as a risk management company, we teach our employees to always be prepared for anything. And yes, you are seeing companies and organizations make very rash decisions. A school district in Seattle announced that they would be closing all schools for two weeks. You suddenly have 22,000 students who are displaced, and those kinds of decisions often lead to more problems.”
BBC’s Cassidy asks: What are the risks you have identified that companies should have planned for and must look at now?
Green: “So, your first concern is going to be your employees. And then, second is disruption to your supply chain. And third is slow down and be proactive about them rather than waiting and wondering why revenue is rapidly declining in the next 90 days.”
BBC’s Cassidy notes: You say, be proactive. It’s very difficult for firms sometimes to know where to start. What advice would you give to companies who find themselves at the heart of this.
SAI Global’s James Green replies: “That’s true. Most often, firms are not proactive, they are very reactive. The first thing that a company can do is create a high-level pandemic response plan.
“Do you have staff that can work from home?
“Do they have laptops?
“Do they have access to VPN?
“Data privacy is going to be paramount, and that’s why there will be some departments that can easily work remotely or work offsite, and there will be certain departments where that will not be possible. If you're a bank and you’re accessing customer records, we don't want you accessing that information from a coffee shop.
“Certainly, what we’ve been discussing with some of our clients the last couple of weeks is: If you are an employee who works paycheck to paycheck, [what if] you are sick and have to stay home and not get paid. So, what we expect to happen in those instances – the employee is going to come into work anyway. And the risk to the employer then is, if I come in sick, I'm going to infect my coworkers, and that’s ultimately going to damage the company’s productivity.
“So, we're seeing some of our thought-leading customers being much more progressive and setting aside their sick-leave policies temporarily. Not only does that help your employees, but it’s actually in the best interests of the company.”
James Green is a director of risk advisory services at SAI Global. He also provides guidance for addressing the pandemic in How to Prepare Your Organization for the Coronavirus Outbreak.
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