No matter which way you look at it, it’s clear that COVID-19 isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, it appears to be ramping up in many parts of the country. As much as we hate to say it, another lockdown is definitely possible - and companies should be using this time to prepare for it.
As a business owner, you have shown resilience and determination to weather the storm this far. When the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold last spring, we were all thrown into a world of uncertainty and chaos. Often decisions that would normally be given time and consideration were being made in moments and business leaders were pivoting in ways that they had never planned or expected.
Now that the dust has settled from our first round with COVID-19, many are anticipating future lockdowns and directives that will impact businesses across the globe. The good news is that it will no longer be something new for us to adapt to – we’ve been here before and we can plan accordingly.
Here are three essential steps to help you prepare and leverage the lessons learned during the pandemic to be sure you are ready for another wave:
1. Review policies and procedures
Did you have a pandemic policy before 2020? If not, don’t worry – you are not alone. Many organizations pulled together a response framework as new information was becoming available, and in consideration of business needs. Take a look at what you did during the early days and reflect on what worked and what didn’t, and build a policy on how you might respond to a second wave. What happens in the event of another lockdown? How will you manage sick time? What is the process in case of another round of layoffs?
Other related policies to consider may be your vacation carry-over policy (since many are delaying big trips due to travel restrictions); time-off and leave policies; work-from-home or flexible work policies; IT policies (in particular, digital security related to remote work); and health and safety policies or procedures.
2. Prepare your communication plan
For many organizations, communication during the early stages of the pandemic was frequent. Things were changing hourly and the response time was swift. If a second wave of the pandemic comes, what will you need to communicate? Unlike the first months of the pandemic, you have time to plan and consider what your employees need to hear and ensure that you are ready.
Communicate early and often.
Be clear and upfront, and provide guidance to the team on what the next steps look like.
Anticipate questions your employees might have and prepare answers or FAQ’s to help.
If you haven’t already done so, appoint a small COVID response team to consistently share information. Ideally this includes a mix of staff and management.
3. Prepare for the financial impacts
Subsidies and government support programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Canada Emergency Business Account, and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance will be ramping down. It is important to review your staffing levels and anticipate changes to revenue as a result of a lockdown or lower business volumes. Unlike the first time we faced this, there is now opportunity to plan and strategize for a few possible scenarios.
Most importantly, now is the time to reflect on your own learnings from COVID-19 - both personally and professionally - and to gather insights from your team. Everyone on your team experienced this pandemic in their own unique way. Taking the time to truly understand what worked, what didn’t, and what could be done better next time will ensure you are prepared for whatever comes next. As a leader it is sometimes very hard to remember that you are not alone in this.
If you would like help or advice in reviewing your policies, developing a communication plan, or conducting a headcount analysis, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or text 403-478-7710.