Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak continues to escalate causing much concern for people around the globe.
Governments, health, finance and other authorities are responding to contain the situation.
As of 9th March, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia reached 93.
Singapore has managed to contain the velocity of the virus spread within its borders. The tally of cases is still inching up but it’s no longer the worst-hit nation outside of China. Singapore did it with a bit of a brute force.
NASA has confirmed that the pollution levels usually observed from space above China by the ISS has cleared in a long time and it is the sign of the complete shutdown of the factories of that region.
This means many of our suppliers are now running low on stocks and so many products will go up in price. There will be a demand for local suppliers and other yet to be affected overseas supply chains, but this is now a time of massive and rapid change for all businesses.
As a direct response to the Covid-19 pandemic, Interest rates are slashed to a record low, many travel advisories are out, travel restrictions are in place, in-person conferences are going virtual, many people are in quarantine and households are stockpiling essential (and unnecessary) items.
There are consequences to panic buying. It can drive up prices and take essential goods out of the hands of people who need them most (such as face masks for health workers).
The fear of the unknown, and believing that a dramatic event warrants a dramatic response drives mad human behaviour even though, in this case, the best response is something as mundane as regularly washing your hands.
It is not rational to buy 222 cans of baked beans or 321 rolls of toilet paper for what would likely be a short isolation period. Stockpiling behaviour will make shortages worse. So, buyer-restrictions will have to be put in place by authorities to manage supply.
The Australian government and local health authorities are preparing for a massive outbreak of the coronavirus. 1 billion in health funding is already confirmed. About 10 billion in a stimulus is coming.
“It is irresponsible for people to be going to work if they are unwell, and that is not just healthcare workers, it is everybody in the community who needs to take this very seriously.” — Jenny Mikakos, Victorian health minister.
The Australian government is seriously considering tailoring its proposed stimulus package towards small businesses – most likely those with a turnover of $50 million or less – in wage subsidies to keep the economy going and attempt to keep people in jobs.
This will certainly help. However, The entire global economy will be affected and the ripple effects of the virus outbreaks will be felt for a long time to come.
How are Australian businesses preparing themselves for this future?
We can see the pricing of products is already changing. Prices of Cruise ship holidays, protection masks and even non-essential items are directly affected due to the potential threat.
Cashflow of many businesses is currently under severe stress especially those Chinese restaurants as people are avoiding eating out at these places, and on the contrary, some of The fast-food delivery services are getting busier.
This is not a natural disaster like the bush fires and floods we have seen recently however this is a more severe, slow and a prolonged problem for the entire economy.
Common sense is not common and as such there will be increased panic over time and people will behave unwisely. Fear will drive decisions and Unfortunately, we will see more businesses go out of business directly due to this.
Can you prevent this situation from potentially killing your business?
The virus can be contracted through physical contact and also through droplets in the air near infected people. So, it is highly contagious.
The biggest impact of the virus is the potential downtime of your workers. If your staff are affected or had to be in quarantine then that is an unplanned downtime you need to handle.
While only 3.4% of those confirmed coronavirus cases end in death, the impact of locked down will be a bigger burden on all businesses.
Invoice processing, projet approvals to actual implementation work will all be affected and could come to a standstill.
If the majority of your key workers are quarantined or in a locked-down area or hospitalised, your business will be paralysed.
If this happens to your business, how will you continue to run it without people?
What can businesses do in the event of this happening?
Handling this situation won’t be easy. The best thing you can do now is to prepare for it.
You must start looking at the potential impact of key people going out of action for up to 30 days all at once.
It is a mind-boggling scenario but luckily you can do something about it. You can leverage automation technology to create a plan B. You can put your business in the best position to see through the tough times.
Ensure you run a staff meeting to inform people about how you will handle this. Also, get staff feedback on this plan. Once reviewed publish that plan and make it available to all people.
Ensure your staff directory is up to date with current contact details, next of kin information as well as other data such as how to contact a staff member during COVID-19 isolation.
Review your work from home policies. Test run your disaster recovery procedures. Document key business processes and look for alternative paths and how they can be handled via a manual and an automated method.
What is your communication plan if you are severely affected by the outbreak?
What will you do if your accountant or finance staff or a key person falls ill?
Who will pay the tax man or process the payroll then?
How will you handle a disruption to your suppliers you depend on or contract staff?
We are already assisting customers to take a good look at their key business processes and people dependencies. By documenting the processes and automating them using digital robots we are able to create a digital workforce that is immune to viruses.
We are here to help.
The danger is real. But, Fear is a choice.
Success is all about preparedness. Make your plan B now.
If you need a helping hand with reviewing your current business processes for impact or setting up a contingent plan such as using a digital workforce, we can certainly help.
You can request assistance via email to firstname.lastname@example.org