Preparing for a pandemic

How can businesses prepare for coronavirus pandemic?

9th March 2020

Coronavirus has rightly dominated newspaper headlines with countries closing borders, restricting travel, imposing lockdowns and broadcasting daily updates. As the situation rapidly evolves, many businesses fear for the wellbeing of their staff and also their futures. There are, however, some practical measures you can take to prepare for a worsening COVID-19 outbreak. 

Wash your hands, but not excessively

During a global pandemic, washing your hands can protect you, your colleagues and your loves ones. As stated by the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, you should wash your hands for the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice. 

That said, washing your hands too often could cause dryness and irritation, which can increase the chances of sustaining bacterial infections. For people who have suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), hearing advice about frequent handwashing can trigger or worsen OCD, so it’s crucial to find the right balance between preventing the spread of a virus and protecting yourself in the best possible way.

Keep your team informed 

Many media outlets have focused on the rising mortality rate and the growing number of coronavirus cases. While these figures are relevant, it’s essential your employees understand exactly how the disease spreads, so that they can protect each other and decrease the chances of contracting (or spreading) the disease. 

COVID-19 can spread person-to-person, so for example when two people are in close contact with one another (within 6 feet of each other), or through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects, such as touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face – though this is less common. 

Remain up to date with the news

The situation is changing by the hour, so it’s crucial to keep tabs on the latest details. It’s best to cross-check stories and monitor trusted sources, such as:

  • GOV.UK – Information about the UK government response
  • – Medical information

We have quickly developed a free Pandemic Preparedness and Response Resource Hub to support our customers and the wider community providing real time situational awareness and links/resources sourced from UK Government and official global agencies.

Utilise the systems and tools you already have in place

If you have conducted a risk assessment in the past, now is the time to re-run it for coronavirus. You can also use the information you have available to improve accuracy while ensuring your emergency communication systems can handle the threat. Our incident-reporting platform, Synapse, is currently being used by enterprises across the globe to provide actionable insight through reporting, data collation, intelligence gathering and analysis. Our platform has the flexibility to add extra incident management types to prepare for and respond to a pandemic crisis, covering business continuity, crisis management, travel risk management and worker safety.

Stay connected with people

If you or members of your team are self-isolating, it’s vital to remain connected with the right telephone numbers and email addresses of crucial contacts – professionally and personally. Today, with social media networks and messenger apps, it’s much easier to connect with the right people, at the right time – so do take advantage of these tools. When self-isolating, it can be advantageous for your mental health to connect with those around you, but without getting distracted from your work (if you’re continuing to do so). Variety is key, so you could, for example, spend your day working on a few critical tasks, speaking with friends, reading books, listing to podcasts and exercising. 

Avoid burnout

Staying at home in isolation can seem daunting to many, but you must do your utmost to exercise, eat right and remain hydrated. Natural light is proven to benefit mental health, boosting vitamin D, improving sleep and preventing seasonal depression. Whether you’re calling a colleague, watching the news or participating in a webinar, try to position yourself tactically and take advantage of the natural daylight on offer. 

Take breaks from social media and share information wisely

As discussed above, staying connected is essential, but it’s vital to find the right balance. Whether you’re managing a team from home or working independently, we recommend setting limits to track your social media usage. If you switch off notifications during those periods where you aim to be as productive as possible, you can minimise the temptation to use social media apps. You may even want to put your phone out of reach, mainly if you’re used to keeping your phone locked away while at work. 

For businesses, it’s important not to overload your employees with notifications about the coronavirus pandemic. By communicating too frequently, staff may begin to feel notification fatigue, meaning they tune out and potentially miss very important updates. 

Watch out for opportunistic cybercriminals

Experts from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), have stated that “individuals in the UK have been targeted by coronavirus-themed phishing emails, with infected attachments containing fictitious ‘safety measures’.” 

These opportunist criminals often create domain names very similar to other organisation’s web addresses to trick email recipients, so it’s imperative to ensure every member of your team keeps a close eye on such online attacks during this turbulent period. 

“Let’s all get through this in a positive way.”

We understand just how difficult it is to stay positive in these difficult circumstances, but businesses and people must come together to weather the storm. Whether you have five employees, 500 or 500,000, show empathy, not just to your staff, but to closely connected communities as well as competitors, helping each other through the coronavirus pandemic. The above points are only a few of the key considerations to keep in mind during these ever-changing circumstances. 

We recently reached out to our staff and customers with an update on how we’re approaching the situation at Zinc Systems. If you’d like to read the message from our leadership team, please click here.

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