Coronavirus is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment – supermarkets are rationing certain products, people are wearing buckets over their heads and the whole country of Italy is on lockdown, but how would your business be affected if certain members of staff had to go into self-isolation or even worse could not work due to being too ill from testing positive? Business contingency plans (BCP) ensure no matter what affects your company, be it an epidemic or key members of staff being out of the business for an extended period, that you are able to continue running (almost) as normal with minimal disruption whilst protecting your profits and client base.

Coronavirus has already affected businesses like Flybe, which went into administration last week, and South by South West, which has had to let go of 50 members of permanent staff due to cancelling its annual festival. With the UK Government accepting that the virus “is going to spread in a significant way”, the delay phase, where large scale events and gatherings will be cancelled and people will be encouraged to work from home, might be closer than we think and without prior preparation can seriously impact businesses across the country.

With a business contingency plan, you will have taken the necessary actions to ensure that no matter the unexpected event or situation, your business is prepared.

Key things to consider when planning a business contingency plan:

• Have you conducted a risk assessment of people’s ability to work from home for an extended period?
– Can everyone access all the systems that are required?
– Do they have the necessary hardware?
– Are they able to take on additional workloads? It may be that during this time an individual employee may have to support another branch of the business. Do they have the necessary skills? Have they used them recently?
• Have you assessed what is essential v what is non-essential for the business to be maintained whilst working under a BCP?
• Are there other value-added tasks that can be completed whilst working under a BCP due to some individuals not having to complete tasks they usually would have to?

The above list is not exhaustive, so it is good practice to consider what other contingencies may affect your company and sector.

Once a business contingency plan has been completed, it is important to test/review it regularly and update it where necessary in line with hirings and firings and the introduction of new systems and technologies.