This guide will contain recommended actions that managers can use to implement a business continuity plan for their office and business operations.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) has elevate the DORSCON level in Singapore from Yellow to Orange, we have seen and experienced a shortage of masks and panic this weekend (7,8 February) in local supermarkets whereby the anxiety and fear of the general public and our workers on the fear of coronavirus becoming a pandemic. As such fear spreads in our local community and workforce, as business managers we can help recommend and implement a business continuity plan (BCP), that works for the business and for the workers.
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
A BCP is a plan and guideline that a business can adopt to ensure the continuity of business during a pandemic or other environmental or economic situations.
Is it difficult and how do I implement a Business Continuity Plan for my company?
Implementing a BCP can be as simple as a few bullet points that act as a guideline for all staff, usually sent out as a notice to staff.
Will implementing a Business Continuity Plan be costly for my company?
Yes and No, A BCP can be a non-costly, and effective measure to adopt best practices at no additional cost to the company. A company can also spend additional money for additional preventive measures to safeguard its staff and it varies company to company on the level of BCP it adopts.
The list of recommendations for BCP.
- Split Working Arrangements (Team A, Team B)
- Limiting Field Activities
- Limited Multi-Location Activities
- Limited Gatherings, Coheisions, and Events
- Provision of Hand Sanitizers
- Provision of Masks
- Provision of Hand Wash
- Avoid handshake
- Mandatory wearing of mask at workplace
- Lunch @ office
- Minimize communication during Lunch
- Wear a mask during working hours
- Step up on housekeeping standards
- Temperature Checks
- Provision of healthy fruits and vitamin c for pantry.
- Subscribe to a regular disinfecting service
Split Working Arrangements
To minimise the likelihood of cross-infection, companies can consider setting up different teams (e.g. Team A and Team B) that can be deployed at different locations or can operate on different work schedules. For instance, Team A may be deployed to work-from-home for the first week while Team B may be requested to still come to the office. The two teams will then swap locations for the following week on a rotational basis.
Limiting Field Activities
Field activities should be discouraged wherever possible to minimise employees’ exposure to the copious number of germs present in the outdoors and the outside air.
Limiting Multi-Location Activities
Companies should also consider restricting multi-location activities (e.g. meeting clients at various venues) to minimise shuttling from one location to another, especially via public transport. Company operations should also be confined to a centralised work location to cut back on unnecessary travel between workplaces, while employees should be discouraged from making redundant personal trips during coming to work in the morning or leaving for home after work.
Limiting Gatherings, Cohesions and Events
As one’s chances of contracting the virus are heightened in crowded places, companies should seek to postpone or cancel unnecessary gatherings or social events that anticipate a moderately large crowd of more than twenty persons.
Wherever possible, companies should also encourage employees to telecommute and work-from home to reduce their chances of inadvertently coming into contact with infected persons. Real-time communication e-platforms such as Skype and Google Hangouts may be used as a substitute for face-to-face meetings.
Provision of Hand Sanitisers
As the coronavirus can jump from one surface to another via accidental contact with the contagious mucus or phlegm from an infected individual, companies should emphasise to employees the importance of maintaining good personal hygiene. To promote the good habit of washing hands, companies can place hand sanitisers at various locations within the office – the hand sanitisers must have at least 60% alcohol for them to be effective – for employees’ use.
Provision of Masks
In line with the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) general advisory on the coronavirus, companies can consider issuing surgical masks to employees who are feeling unwell or employees who display respiratory symptoms such as cough and runny nose. This will help to limit the spread of the coronavirus, which has been proven to proliferate via respiratory droplets in the air.
Provision of Hand Wash
Hand wash is also another viable alternative to hand sanitisers should companies not be able to purchase sufficient hand sanitisers. Soap and water reduce the amount of all types of germs on one’s hands, so frequent hand washing should keep them clean. Besides providing hand wash, companies should also advise employees on how to utilise the hand wash effectively – for hand wash to be effective, one must use enough hand wash to cover one’s hands. One should then rub it over one’s hands for 20 seconds, and leave it to dry naturally instead of wiping them dry.
It may be a good idea to avoid handshakes for the time being as skin-to-skin contact has been identified to be a possible avenue for a healthy person to obtain the virus from an infected person. Companies should consider encouraging alternative social gestures such as smiles or polite nods.
Mandatory Wearing of Masks at Workplaces
For businesses whose employees need to interact with customers frequently, companies can consider making it mandatory for these front-line employees (e.g. security guards or customer service staff) to don surgical masks to reduce their chances of contracting the virus. Wearing masks will also help to minimise the likelihood of cross-infection at the workplace given that employees are likely to spend the bulk of their time in the office.
During this trying period, it may be wise to avoid eating out at food courts or hawker centres during lunchtime to minimise one’s exposure to crowded areas. Encouraging employees to buy take-outs and have their lunch in the office may be a more sensible option.
Minimise Communication During Lunch
It has always been regarded as poor etiquette to talk with one’s mouth full during lunch and the coronavirus may have given employees another reason not to do so, considering how talking may easily result in the exhalation of bodily fluids such as saliva.
Step up on Housekeeping Standards
Since it is possible for the coronavirus to live on surfaces such as plastic, glass, and metal for up to nine days, companies should encourage employees to practise simple housekeeping for their own personal areas e.g. work cubicles. Housekeeping supplies such as cloths and cleaning solutions may be specially purchased for staff usage.
As it is common for infected persons to exhibit feverish symptoms, companies are highly encouraged to ask employees to bring oral thermometers from home and carry out regular temperature screening exercises for staff. Should a company’s operations require interaction with members of the public, a good practice would also be to take the temperatures of visitors or customers to workplaces, coupled with log access to facilitate contact tracing if the need arises.
Provision of Healthy Fruits and Redoxon Tablets for Pantry
The provision of healthy fruits rich in Vitamin C (e.g. oranges, apples or fruit-infused drinks) and redoxon tablets for workplace pantries is an effective way of keeping the coronavirus at bay by helping to boost the immune systems of employees, thereby lowering their risk of getting infected.
Subscribe to a Regular Disinfecting Service
Companies may consider subscribing to a regular professional disinfecting service to provide a peace of mind for workers. During this period, the disinfecting company should drop by the office on a regular basis and perform a thorough disinfection of all workplace furniture and equipment.
BCP is a good practice that can help you take preventive measures to limit the spread of the virus, and also to safeguard your workplace from viruses including the coronavirus. This is an educational article written by BUTLER for businesses in Singapore.
Should you have any enquiry or wish to have us implement the above for your office to gain a much-needed peace of mind during this period? Drop us an email and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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