The World Health Organisation (WHO), has declared the Coronavirus as a global epidemic. With that, Singapore decided to close its borders to all foreign travellers from China to prevent the spread of coronavirus within our borders.
Singapore is the first Southeast Asian country to place restrictions on all new visitors that are not Singaporeans and Permanent Residents arriving from the People's Republic of China.
Being one of China's biggest trading partners and a popular tourist destination for Chinese tourists, this ban has an immense impact on our Economy. A ban of such a magnitude will affect a majority of industries; specifically hotels, retail and F&B.
Hotel businesses such as Royal Plaza on Scotts is said to expect a loss of $700,000 in revenue.
The cancellations are both from travellers originating from China and other nationality travellers who are cancelling out of fear of the virus. In these volatile times, it calls for flexibility from the organisation to retain its customers and to stay competitive.
Restaurants as well are affected as the number of tourists have dropped significantly and people are afraid to frequent restaurants.
When a virus that affects millions of people globally breaks out, it affects everyone and everything. Economies suffer, people, lose their lives and there is a widespread fear. To not be a victim of such catastrophic implications, organisations have to be open to change and have contingency plans in place.
Does your organisation have a contingency and continuity plan for a crisis like this viral epidemic?
Contingency planning is a course of action designed to help an organization respond effectively to a significant future event or situation that may or may not happen.
After conducting a risk assessment plan, the organisation would be aware of the possible disasters or epidemics the company would need to be prepared for. Managers and other employees should know what the operating procedures are and who they should contact in an emergency. Using the set protocol, the organisation would make the necessary moves to ensure they take care of both the employees and the customers.
Adaptability is also key to staying relevant in this VUCA world. Singapore government has placed a compulsory 14-day absence for those in schools, healthcare and eldercare who travelled to China. In such a scenario, organisations would have to handle the lack of manpower and ensure productivity. By implementing the contingency plan, staff can work from home or off-site to ensure continuity of work with minimal impact to operations.
Contingency planning contributes to the company's strategy. Hence, it's essential to plan for this crucial aspect of operations for an organisation.
Here are the TOP three measures that an organisation can take in a contingency plan in times of crisis like this.
There should be a flexible work option for high-risk employees(those affected by the Coronavirus) and employees who need to stay at home due to other reasons. Work from home should be an option put in place to minimise disruption of operations and ensure that there is business continuity in times of 'disasters'.
A Flu Manager should be appointed to ensure that employees are familiar with the business contingency and continuity plans and comply with them during this period.
Develop a plan for the continuity of leadership in the event of the absence of key decision-makers and executives.