In the world of business continuity planning, trends change — sometimes drastically — each year. In 2020, continuity planning in the US has taken an obvious unplanned turn in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many businesses in uncharted waters as the economy wades deeper into the unknown. In this sense, preemptive planning is as important as ever — especially with many workplaces divided and forced into remote communication. 

Taking inventory

In response to COVID-19, many businesses have had to grapple with quick-moving change in both functionality and infrastructure. From a continuity standpoint, this nearly unprecedented disruption has created new and unique challenges to ensure fluidity and safety. As previously mentioned, a large majority of businesses have resorted to remote working situations — even if this is not typically the norm for these entities — and this alone has made matters comparatively harder from a communication standpoint let alone a logistical one. Therefore, it is key for these businesses to take inventory of all relevant and crucial internal factors, from the assessment of staff members’ health and availability to the proper tools and technologies needed to align and manage a larger remote workforce. Having a clearer understanding of these variables will ensure an easier transition as quarantine protocol becomes increasingly widespread. 

Prioritizing business functions

Preferably, your business continuity plan should be at least reasonably prepared for all potential disruptions, and the coronavirus situation, while historic and far-reaching in its economic impact, should be no different in principle. Still, keeping with the spirit of the previous section, you will want to take proper time to prioritize business functions to ensure, if your business is capable of remaining operational, that all key responsibilities and obligations are continuing to be met — while tabling or adapting those capable of being handled in such a manner. Start by identifying the most vulnerable parts of your business as a result of the virus, emphasizing their fortification while projecting losses and formulating back-up plans if they were to fail. To properly stick this landing, your plan will need to be both flexible and inventive, planning for all hypothetical directions in which the pandemic could go in the coming months. 

Staying safe and remaining consistent

It can be easy, amidst the aforementioned prioritization measures, to inadvertently relegate parts of business continuity and safety to the backburner — especially those deemed to be less urgent or prevalent with the current situation in mind. That said, even if this approach is unavoidable, it cannot become a habit beyond the pandemic’s peak (or even during the pandemic itself, if possible). Shape your continuity plan with your workers’ best interests and safety in mind, but remember that, ideally, you will one day resume normal operations after the pandemic ends. In this moment, overlooked aspects of your continuity plan and safety protocol could come back to haunt you in the form of crucial weaknesses. It may be hard to think forward when the future is currently so unclear, but do your best to prepare for all hypothetical scenarios beyond the scope of the pandemic. In the meantime, also remember to prioritize the wellbeing and stability of your staff as the business works to reestablish normalcy.