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COVID-19: 8 key considerations for workplace continuity

Most organizations have business continuity plans in place for responding to natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, arson and terrorism. However, COVID-19 presents unique challenges for several reasons:  it has no geographic center, its impact is dynamically shifting without regard to borders, and it spreads from human to human.

To feel prepared, organizations may want to review existing remote working programs or accelerate the development of new programs and strategies that can enable employees to work productively during the disruption.

The following are some possible impacts that organizations should consider:

  1. Employees unable to commute/travel: Efforts to contain the virus may include airport and public transportation closures that prevent employees from getting to the office, client sites or other meetings. In communities where schools and daycares close, working parents will face an additional challenge to their normal workday as they manage childcare issues.
  2. Employees unable to occupy workplaces for a prolonged period of time: In some instances, office buildings and corporate campuses may close to prevent the spread of the virus.
  3. A slowdown in growth/sales due to widespread absenteeism: If employees cannot make it to work, business growth may slow, particularly for retail, hospitality and service-oriented businesses.
  4. Workforce productivity loss and diminished workforce performance: Employees who do not have the tools and resources to work effectively outside of the corporate office may face challenges with maintaining normal productivity levels. Even if employees are able to be in the office, the heightened distraction and anxiety caused by coronavirus may reduce productivity.
  5. Cost of hiring temporary replacement workers and other resources: Temporary workers can help fill gaps when essential employees are sick, but organizations will need to carefully evaluate costs and how easily those skills could be replicated by temporary workers.
  6. Cost of distributed technology investment and telecommuting tools: Many organizations will find the need to invest in technology that enables employees to work remotely. While unexpected, this investment could produce returns over time if the organization decides to continue a remote-work program once business returns to normal.
  7. Cost of developing and executing a remote work program: Additional resources may be needed to put the processes and structures in place that enable employees to work effectively from home and other locations.
  8. Cost of training and communications for remote employees: Clear, proactive communications are important to drive the success of a remote work program.

DISCLAIMER: JLL and our staff are not authorized or qualified to guide or influence you in the preparation of your own business continuity or preparations plans from a health and public policy perspective. While we are making efforts to ensure we are providing an up-to-date list of publicly available resources, all details on COVID-19, as well as health and public policy implications, should be addressed with the advice of an independent specialist.

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