change · Mar 19, 2020

What Risks do Coronavirus Pose and What can you do About it?

24/7 coverage by most major news outlets along with the stock market experiencing its worst performance since the financial crash of 2008, has unsurprisingly created a feeling of angst in huge numbers of individuals and businesses around the world. But how rational is this fear? What do we really know?

Below are some of the risks that businesses could be facing in the coming weeks/months and we’re sharing with you some effective ways to combat these potential issues:

Mindset

The first risk is that COVID-19 will instil a general feeling of stress and worry within the business which, in turn will prevent employees from performing at their best. Even if some employees are following all safety procedures recommended, there’s always a chance that someone else isn’t. Therefore people are worrying that a meeting with a colleague or a morning commute will be all it takes to fall ill. Employees will also fear the implications of falling ill, whether it be passing the disease onto relatives or colleagues, and all of these factors could in turn affect mindsets and ultimately, performance in the office.

So, what can you do about it?

If you have worked with us before, then you will have most likely have heard the phrase ‘Control the Controllables’. This is the idea of focussing on the parts of your work that you still have influence over, as opposed to those which you cannot control. Like it or not, we cannot on an individual level stop the spread of COVID-19. This will largely come down to government intervention and advances in medicine, combined with a greater understanding of the disease. We can take all the proper safety precautions, but what else?

One thing you can control is not letting the fear of COVID-19 affect your day-to-day performance. Only you have the ability to decide where to shift your focus, whether it is continually checking for news updates, or doing your part to keep the day-to-day business activity running smoothly, as there will still be many people relying on you to do your job. The decisions we choose to make in the face of COVID-19 will impact not just ourselves but the lives of those around us and so it’s vital that we assess what is in our control and act in a way that has a positive impact on as many people as possible.

Postponements / Cancellations

A second risk is that the spread of COVID-19 will result in business events having to be postponed or cancelled entirely. This is one set back that the vast majority of businesses are already experiencing. Events often consist of individuals travelling in from different parts of the world, and so it’s understandable when the decision is made to postpone these in the expectation that it could be a risk of spreading COVID-19. However, this does have an effect not just on the people who have put the work in to prepare for such an event, but also for all those who have invested in it financially and those who have taken time out of their schedules to attend.

With no end date for COVID-19 in sight, businesses have to be planning ahead in the expectation that situations like this could continue for some time. It may sound strange but planning for the worst possible outcome is actually one of the most constructive things we can be doing right now.

  • How can you re-organise your operations in a way that is prepared for a long-haul disruption?
  • Can you replace in-person meetings with digital ones?
  • Can employees access the files they need to from home?

Have internal meetings to address people’s concerns and gather ideas on how to best keep the business functioning in a way that is prepared to combat the disruption caused by COVID-19 for the foreseeable future.

Business Performance

The final risk is the possibility of a business underperforming due to factors caused by COVID-19. Whether it is travel bans, lockdowns, slowdowns in production / supply lines or some other external factor, the risk that businesses could be facing some of their toughest quarters is a real one.

This is dangerous as it can feel like a losing battle and morale can drop rapidly within an organisation. Our advice here is to use examples of past success to keep people motivated. Look back at times where you faced adversity and rose to the challenge. A great way to go about this is to build an evidence wall – evidence walls are collections of past achievements which demonstrate that you as a team have what it takes to succeed, even in times of tribulation. It’s crucial to remember that fear is not a stop sign, and that just because times are tough, that doesn’t mean that you still can’t make a difference.

And finally, arguably the biggest risk in the wake of this pandemic is that of businesses refusing to change at all. COVID-19 is a global issue and the status quo will have to be challenged by everyone in the coming months. And whilst it should be taken seriously and all health precautions should be followed, COVID-19 presents opportunities to businesses that don’t come around very often. It is common for organisations to have too many competing objectives and in turn lose sight of what’s most important. The slow- down in business as usual operations will open up a door to zero in on the key priorities and also generate new operational ideas that may become common practice in the future. There’s no doubt COVID-19 will affect businesses in a multitude of ways but being on the front foot and actively addressing these risks allows us to manage them on our own terms and provides an opportunity to strengthen and streamline existing processes.

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