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Coronavirus: How to mitigate risks?

While coronavirus continuous to be the international headlines, rumours trigger different kinds of panic and stress to our society.  Without clear written measures on what we can do to mitigate risk will weaken our ability to manage or handle situations such as ‘panic buying’ or over-restricted reaction plan that may further hit the daily operations of our businesses.

We suggest management of businesses do keep an eye out for any fake news. Double-checking the truthfulness of the source can reduce negative effectively to the business. Management should always be vigilant on whether a news is reliable.  Besides, adequate planning on how to handle these kinds of situations should also be established.  Below are some of the suggestions for risk mitigation:

BUSINESS AND OPERATIONAL RISKS

1. Establish clear emergency measures and organisational instructions in order to ensure continuity of operations according to the level of risk

  • Measures on how to meet government priorities and minimise the risk of business disruptions
  • Set up the guideline of Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans especially for the COVID-19.  The guideline should be fair and without bias within the organization or towards customers in order to avoid any complaints related to discrimination)

2. Set up reaction plans (procedures, allocation of employees, tools, and other resources) on business type and approach

  • Management should diversify the business types and understand the financial impact of downtime due to COVID-19
  • Adopt a pragmatic, collaborative approach to new ways of running the business (both locally and globally)

3. Prepare for issues in the supply chain

  • Increase the sourcing channels of materials from different kinds of vendors
  • Evaluate the impact of performance of existing vendors (Quality and Suitability) 

4. Plan for work that cannot be done remotely

  • Access remote working strategy, including asking employees to work remotely or relocate
  • Review travel rules, HR policies and first aid / quarantine plans

5. Review existing plans and prepare for the need to close down business premises

  • Review the existing Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans. If sufficiently thorough, they should address a variety of contingencies that could disrupt the firm’s businesses, including potential pandemics cases identified
  • Prepare an alternative plan for optimization the Company structure

6. Stabilise the organisation for the event of a significant impact on its economy

  • Management should access the impact from COVID-19 to the business objectives, update the risk register and closely monitoring the risk response to high risk areas
  • Management should identify the most valuable assets, functions, and customers’ relationship to the organization and deploy resources to maintain the core businesses

7. Prepare scenarios, plans and measures to restore business operations

  • Determine the vulnerable areas, map dependencies, and forecast the cashflow and estimate the potential losses if those processes break down for an estimated period of time — from weeks to months or more
  • Be proactive and establish a comprehensive, customer-oriented plan that is sustainable

Communication Risks

Create a communications plan that includes providing employees, clients, suppliers, and partners with regular situation updates as well as actions taken.

1. Develop a mechanism of communication with stakeholders

  • Set up a hotline to handle any questions related to COVID-19

2. Implement fundamental emergency measures for the current situation

  • Set up the benchmark of introduced measures within your industry

3. Implement all the recommendations from Center for Health Protection (CHP) and World Health Organization (WHO)

  • Take care to ground the communications in verifiable news sources from CHP & WHO

Employee risks

The health and well-being of employees is the priority of every organization. It is possible that COVID-19 will sicken some employees and force others into quarantine. Think about operations with a remote workforce.

1. Analyse key roles that require on-site access, establish a backup plan in case of their absence

  • Appoint at least one backup person or selected team members to devise a response strategy and coordinate pandemic readiness activities

2. Design measures to help employees with management of stress and stressful situations

  • Conduct the psychological lectures
  • Set up the COVID-19 funds to assist the employees who need help

3. Set up access for employee mobility

  • Make arrangement for flexible working hours
  • Allow the employees work from home