International SOS has been supporting thousands of organisations and their people to combat the COVID-19 pandemic together. Depending on which countries you operate in, your strategy will likely have been shaped by the local case volumes.
The purpose of this illustration is to highlight the quick changes organisations have or should be making to their risk management strategies. We look ahead at how you can protect your organisations business resilience and continuity for the rest of 2020 and beyond.
The concept of the pandemic curve is to illustrate the impact of COVID-19 on organisations. Although not based on real data, it visualises the number of cases reported in a given country over time. The dark blue section shows where cases have possibly been supported by established healthcare networks in a country. The red section depicts a dangerous situation where local healthcare systems are overwhelmed and potentially unable to support your organisation and your people. Historically, we know pandemics are expected to produce a second wave of cases which is likely to occur with COVID-19.
Below, we have pinpointed the specific organisational needs at every stage of the pandemic curve.
- As cases are detected and begin to increase, it is imperative for organisations to have access to accurate and timely information on COVID-19 as well as tools to help proactively communicate with and educate your workforce about the risks. It is important to initiate methods for tracking your sites and/or offices around the world to detect new emerging threats.
- Expert health and security advice from a doctor and/or security expert specialising in pandemics and crisis management and resilience is pertinent in reviewing policies and plans.
- Relying on a provider than can provide case-by-case support for your workforce against health and security threats is especially pertinent when travel and individual movement becomes restricted.
As case numbers increase, recommendations to defer all travel is likely to come into effect, and indeed has in many locations. This will typically lead to closing operations, offices and/or sites. Having access to expert health and security advice to support your decision-making process is essential. At the same time, where restrictions are potentially easing, speaking with these experts can also help to resume operations more efficiently.
- When case numbers begin to challenge a country’s healthcare infrastructure, TeleHealth services become critical in being able to provide an appropriate level of care to your workforce, whether at home or abroad. These services give your organisation direct access to medical professionals who can coordinate a robust treatment plan and schedule a video consultation with a local doctor who can prescribe required medication, should it be required. At this point in the curve, mental health resilience is particularly challenged – even those without infection now face a feeling of isolation and loneliness. Offering support to your workforce is imperative to maintaining your organisation resilience.
- Approaching the top of the peak requires on-the-ground support for those organisations who find their people trapped due to changing travel restrictions. Evacuations and repatriations become necessary in order to ensure the health and safety of your workforce. Likewise, the ability to maintain business continuity and have clear decision-making support, is enhanced through that on-the-ground capability.
- Throughout the pandemic curve, understanding the local security environment becomes more important – monitoring potential deteriorations (and improvements) in already fragile security environments is critical, particularly where COVID-19 can exacerbate these inherent security risks.
- Addressing the decreasing side of the curve is equally as important in order to ensure the safe return of your people and your operations. Having access to tools for analysing the risks in all the countries you’re operating will help to develop your organisations ‘back to work’ policies and procedures.
- Evaluating your business as usual policies and procedures should be validated with expert medical and security advice. It is especially important to evaluate what to do if or when new threats emerge.
- We would recommend proactively facilitating return to work assessments for all of your operating sites or staff that must travel. Your existing travel policy may not be sufficient given the new environment and an interim version might need to be put in place.
- Reviewing key lessons learnt to uncover both strengths and weaknesses in your business continuity plans is commonly omitted after a crisis. Especially with the possibility of a second wave, this is the best time to review and address your plans – so, if your organisation is impacted by an outbreak or pandemic again, a process to managing it is clearly defined.
- Based on historical data from previous pandemics, it is very likely that at least one country your organisation operates in, or perhaps even a work site, will experience a second wave of cases. This could be minor or even as significant as the first wave. However, if you have put in place all the correct elements of combatting the curve to date – a robust business continuity plan will help to minimise the second wave’s impact.
- We advise all organisations to continue to monitor this pandemic, proactively communicating with your people to explain the ways to prevent infection, review and implement your plans for pandemic and other infectious disease outbreaks.
Should you have any questions on how we can support your organisations, please get in touch.