COVID-19 has you and your business cornered, what do you do now?

You can’t get very far these days without hearing about how the COVID-19 virus or ‘coronavirus’ is having devastating impacts in some countries and causing significant supply-chain issues in others.  AskBetsyBCP has put together a workbook that is based on DRI International Professional Practices content and other respected public domain models, frameworks etc. and are not ready for use in your organization without customization of content and layout.  They are not all inclusive of what you need to do nor are they professionally set up – to ensure ease of customization with your company layout, logos and other content these files are vanilla, generic content only – specific requirements, fullness of content and professional set-up are company specific and must be customized to meet your needs…please ensure they are modified appropriate to the environment you work in.

DEVELOPMENT NOTE: This document is designed to be a pandemic scenario specific ‘companion document’ to existing Emergency Management & Business Continuity Plans and must be updated as additional risk and response activities not yet identified become known.

To simplify the process, this is broken down into downloadable documents to give you steps to plan for a Pandemic Plan (such as COVID-19) BEFORE it happens and also what to do during a Pandemic. NOTE – All appendices are listed at the bottom.

NOTE: If this a real event, go directly to: SECTION 2

Section 1 – Pre-Pandemic

The Challenge

The nature of a Pandemic is such that each team within a Corporation will be affected at different levels at different times potentially over several months.  It is important to recognize that absenteeism rates for each Business Unit team will be arbitrary and are more likely to be 80% in Team A, 10% in Team B, 50% in Team C etc.

While at work, employers are responsible for the health and safety of their staff.  According to the Labour Code of Canada, no employee can be forced to work under conditions they deem to be unsafe.

Given the interdependencies across teams in today’s business environment, a high absentee rate in any business function may have a strong domino effect.  In addition, it is very possible that even a low absentee rate may result in an extreme impact if key resources are the ones that are absent.

This section of the Planning for Pandemic BCP companion document includes:

Pandemic Crisis Management Primer

REMEMBER – The nature of a Pandemic is such that each team within a Corporation will be affected at different levels at different times.  Forecasts by health experts during SARS were that Corporations should plan for a 30%-35% absentee rate.  Currently there is no prediction for COVID-19 related absentee rate.  It is important to recognize that this is an overall average absentee rate, and that actual rates for each team are more likely to be 80% in Team A, 10% in Team B, 50% in Team C etc.

Given interdependencies across teams in today’s business environment, a high absentee rate in any business function may have a strong domino affect across the rest of the Corporation.  In addition, it is very possible that even a low absentee rate actually results in an extreme impact because key resources are the ones that are absent.

What is especially key in crisis management is the need to stay ahead of the crisis wave.  Spending less than an hour each morning assessing the situation and adapting your response will pay back many times over.  In addition, considering the long term impact of decisions being made, tracking backlogs that are building and planning how to deal with them following the crisis will ensure that you don’t inadvertently create a “crisis within the crisis” or a “post-crisis crisis” when you suddenly realize the impact of your actions when it’s too late to adapt. (see section 4.2)

Throughout the pandemic period it will be necessary to review your planning assumptions and Risk/Business Impact Analysis results.  External factors and unforeseen circumstances will change work requirements and anticipated impacts.  You may well find yourself setting priorities on an almost daily basis.  Some services may be able to be deferred for a day or two, then become critical for another few days, then can be deferred again. Other services can be scaled back indefinitely.  If your team is severely hit by absenteeism you may find it necessary to take daily service requirements, split them into logical chunks and perform each chunk on alternating days.  Other services may be almost completely deferred and only performed once each week.  It is recommended that the Setting Priorities analysis be conducted at least once each week throughout the pandemic period, and on a daily basis when needed.  (Appendix A1 and A2a and A2b)

  1. Management Action Plan
  2. All Staff Awareness & Education
  3. Pandemic Team Training
  4. Pandemic Plan Maintenance & Updating
  5. Activation/Implementation Planning
  6. Exercising the Pandemic Plan

Section 2 – Mid Pandemic (COVID-19) Health & Safety of Staff

Situation:  The World Health Organization (WHO), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Municipal Public Health officials have announced that the threat of an influenza pandemic has become a reality (as they have with COVID-19) with confirmed human to human airborne spread of infection in your area.  Media coverage is widespread and staff are frightened.  Your first responsibility is to the health & safety of your staff.  You must activate at least parts of your Pandemic Plan and manage through the crisis in a calm and orderly manner. 

Note that this phase could come in waves and last several months! 

 

This section of the Planning for Pandemic BCP companion document includes:

  1. Managing the Crisis – Day ONE
  2. Managing the Crisis – Every Day
  3. Preventing Infection in the Workplace
  4. Detecting Infection Risk in the Workplace
  5. Responding to a Health Emergency (COVID-19)

* NOTE: until a Corporate decision is made regarding the information privacy rights of infected staff who do not want others told of their condition, we cannot enter the action to be taken in this Plan.

SECTION 3 – Mid-Pandemic (COVID-19):

Health and Safety of your staff is your primary concern.  Reducing the possibility of infection in the workplace should be your number one priority.  However, this must be a combined effort of management and every member of your team.  You cannot do it alone.  Hand-washing/sanitizing and staying home when sick are the most important infection fighting efforts.

This section of the Planning for Pandemic BCP companion document includes:

Providing Essential Services through the Pandemic (COVID-19) Crisis

Situation:  The World Health Organization (WHO), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Municipal Public Health have announced that the threat of an influenza pandemic has become a reality in your area with confirmed human to human airborne spread of infection.

Media coverage is widespread, ‘Your City’  has been hit with the influenza virus and staff absentee rates are high.  Those staff members at work are very frightened and may or may not come in tomorrow.  Your first responsibility is to the health & safety of your staff.  You must activate your Pandemic Plan and manage through the crisis in a calm and orderly manner.

Note that this phase of Pandemic could come in 6-8 week waves spanning 12-18 months!*

The Link to your Business Continuity Plan

This Planning for Pandemic document is a ‘companion document’ to the existing Business Continuity Plan.  If you don’t have a Business Continuity Plan or want simple COVID-19 responses, read here.

BCP requirements outlined in the master BCP are not addressed in this document.  The contents of each organization’s master Business Continuity Plan is required to provide consistent foundation incident response procedures and protocols and recovery strategies for information provided in this Pandemic Plan.

As a bare minimum it is assumed that the Master BCP includes:

  1. Risk Assessment, Business and Application Impact Analysis Results
  2. Critical Functions & Service Levels (reworked for Pandemic scenario specific tolerable risk identification)
  3. Emergency Management Response Team
    • Membership
    • Roles & responsibilities
  4. Incident Response Procedures
    • Normal hours response
    • After hours response
  5. Key Personnel Notification Process
    • Response Team contact lists (Protected when complete)
    • Crisis Management Team contact list (Protected when complete)

Appendices:

  1. Relocation Details
    • During working and silent hours
      • Assembly site
      • Alternate work site(s)
  2. IT Requirements by Business Service and Application (including RTOs and RPOs)
  3. Critical Documentation and Files
  4. Critical Assets and Resources
  5. Resources Required Over Time
  6. Non Response Team Contacts/Alternates
  7. Critical Suppliers and Service Contractors
  8. Key Clients
  9. Other Key Contacts
  10. BCP ‘GO’ Boxes

SECTION 4 – Post-Pandemic

Situation:  The Pandemic period has passed.  You and your remaining staff are exhausted and extremely fragile.  Some members of your team are still off work either ill or providing care and nurturing to family members. Some members of your team may have passed away, retired early or quit.  Your workload is in chaos.  Backlogs are piled up and you hardly know where to begin your recovery efforts. Municipal authorities have declared the pandemic “over” in your area.

Do not de-activate your Pandemic Plan just yet.  There is much work left to be done.

This section of the Planning for Pandemic BCP companion document includes:

  1. Identifying and helping severely affected staff
  2. Returning to Normal Processing
  3. De-activating the Pandemic Plan

 

SECTION 5 – APPENDIX

  1. A1 – BIA Pandemic
  2. A2a – Setting Priorities
  3. A2b – Setting Priorities Sample
  4. B – Amended Policy Tracking
  5. C – Escalation Framework OEF
  6. D – Record of Decisions
  7. E – Management Pandemic Scenarios
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