Key Steps for Business Continuity Amidst COVID-19
Ever since COVID-19 was named a global pandemic, businesses all around the world have been scrambling to shift their workforce to work remotely. However, the rapid shift away from normalcy is causing undeniable disruptions in operations during the outbreak, remote work or not.
A poll conducted by Gartner found that only 12% of people surveyed during a business continuity webinar were highly confident in their company’s coronavirus preparations. Only 26% of the attendees believed that coronavirus would have little to no impact on the bottom lines of their business.
It’s clear that most organizations have some level of disaster planning, but there are a tremendous amount of unanswered questions among whether or not all risks have been addressed. Agio, cybersecurity and IT infrastructure expert has been aiding its private equity and hedge fund clients with pandemic planning ever since day one. During this pandemic, Agio has seen common issues that firms have tackled and identified key steps that every fund can take to prepare their operations for the foreseeable future during the pandemic.
Establish a Hierarchy of Critical Business Functions
For many firms, it’s unavoidable that certain tasks or functions may become impossible without being physically present in the office. One of the first steps any business needs to take is to form a high-level team that understands and represents all core business activities. The team then needs to categorize all business functions into tiers for response and/or recovery, in the event, there’s a disruption in operations. By doing so, a business can avoid spending excessive time addressing minor issues at the expense of more essential processes.
Constant Communication Alleviates Uncertainty
The world is undergoing an unprecedented event. Organizations should have regular communication among its leadership to share coronavirus updates, overcome operational roadblocks, and keep the business on track. According to Gina Yacone, a security consultant with Agio, “leadership should have a weekly web conference to keep employees apprised of business continuity of the organization and to ask questions. Frequent, honest communication can reduce rumors and needless anxiety and fear.”
Involve Key Stakeholders with Business Continuity Plans
A firm must present a united front – leadership, IT, HR, and security – to ensure that employees are protected and business continues. From a digital security standpoint, a rapid shift towards remote work can expose a firm to tremendous security vulnerabilities, especially if users are logging in from personal devices, accessing unsecured networks, or getting distracted at home. It’s essential for each stakeholder at a firm to have a good look at where they are most vulnerable and what steps can be taken to mitigate risks without severe business disruption.
Physical Contagion Prevention
For offices that remain open or are unable to move their entire workforce to remote work, it’s essential to keep employee health and safety in mind. COVID-19 can be spread through surface contamination, coughing, or sneezing – which makes maintaining 5-6 feet between team members a bare minimum to minimize the risk of infection. In addition, a constant effort to disinfect shared resources and surfaces needs to be implemented. Unfortunately, supplies such as disinfecting wipes, masks, or gloves may be severely limited if an office does not have them on-hand already.
Pandemic Planning Aid
For many alternative investment firms, dealing with extreme market volatility and economic uncertainty makes it tough to take a comprehensive approach to business continuity planning. Agio helps assist with improving cybersecurity for hedge funds.