It’s the nightmare scenario we have always dreaded.
A highly infectious respiratory disease has broken out in the UK. COBRA is meeting daily and the Government has cancelled all public transport in outbreak areas. Airports and Train stations are closed. People have been instructed to stay at home.
Perhaps, but not for the people in Wuhan, China who are facing this reality at the moment.
Think it couldn’t happen here?
After WW One the Spanish flu pandemic claimed up to 100 million lives worldwide including many in the UK, in remote Pacific Islands and even in the Arctic. Since then there have been outbreaks of various viruses worldwide. Ebola in Africa, Zika in Latin America and the Caribbean, SARS, and MERS. These have been amongst the more reported but other outbreaks of lesser-known viruses like Nipah, Marburg, and Lujo have also occurred.
And the major nuisance of these viruses is that they have a tendency to evolve and mutate. One day there will be a major outbreak and it could well happen here.
So, what would your business do in this event?
How would you deal with the potential disruption caused by employees not able to get to work, customers unable to order and suppliers delays in fulfilling orders?
Okay, so this example may be an extreme, but it probably will happen at some stage somewhere in the western world, particularly given how easily we can travel across the globe, but it should make you think how a major incident can impact your business.
Take, for instance, an outbreak of conventional flu. Would you want staff struggling into work ill, potentially infecting other employees, or would you enable them to work from home, when fit to do so? What would your responsibilities be if the ill staff made errors or caused an accident?
This brief blog has been full of questions, but they are questions that any business needs to ask. The current Coronavirus outbreak may be topical but it does raise important issues that businesses need to face. Think about UK businesses who deal with Chinese businesses in Wuhan. How are they dealing with the interruption in supplies and difficulty in contacting their Chinese suppliers? How are they looking at their own staff in the affected area?
Just because something happens somewhere far away doesn’t mean that it doesn’t impact businesses here.
It’s worth asking yourself these questions which can be summarised in one overarching question:-
“What would we do if …..?”