Illness in the workplace is always tricky, first of all you don’t really want your staff getting ill. Secondly, if they are ill, you don’t particularly want them back in the office too early spreading germs to other staff. However the problem is that you need them or at least you need someone to be doing their work.
Now this is all fairly run of the mill business problems, but unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past month, you can’t help but have seen the many headlines regarding the current Coronavirus outbreak.
To give the virus its correct name, “Covid-19” has been causing extreme problems throughout China and has sporadically been tracked and confirmed in many other countries in the world including the UK. It is, however, worth noting that at the moment the virus seems to be fairly well contained in Britain. We are yet to see anything like the spread and consequent quarantine measures that have affected mainland China. Most of the reported, confirmed cases outside of China still seem to have a fairly direct link back to people who have recently visited Wuhan in China’s Hubei province (the suspected outbreak source) or have come into close contact with someone who has.
Would the UK enforce quarantines and how would that affect your business?
In China, after a slow start to act, they have quarantined entire cities cutting of millions of people from the rest of the world. To get a sense of scale, the city of Wuhan alone has a population of around 11 million; New York City is home to around 8 million.
It’s fairly safe to assume that it is highly unlikely that the UK government would force such draconian measures if a major outbreak occurs here. What is highly likely is that, as a business, you could very quickly and with very little warning find yourself very short staffed.
Now is the time to be prepared
Better safe than sorry, it may be an overused phrase, but it’s true and key to this is having a clear absence policy in place. A member of staff returning to work before they are fit to do so may result in more absences and more working hours lost. Click here to see some current guidelines for preparing your business for a possible outbreak. The advice in the link is from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the recommended strategies are just as applicable for UK business.
That takes care of your in-house staffing but what about business continuity for the period that your business is short? A solution would be to consider outsourcing as many duties as possible during the problem period. Connect can certainly help with the answering of your calls, speaking to your clients and if necessary keeping them up to date with what’s happening in your business. Orders may well be delayed, appointments rescheduled or cancelled and whilst most callers won’t be ecstatic at the news, they will appreciate the situation and continued communication.
3 things to know about Coronavirus
- The current risk and chances of catching the virus in the UK is extremely low. As of early Feb 2020, the handful of cases confirmed were from individuals returning from China or having been in close contact with someone else who had.
- The risk of death is also low at around 1 in 100 unlike the Sars virus which killed around 1 in 10. Regular flu is estimated to kill around half a million people globally each year so the Coronavirus outbreak really needs to be viewed in perspective.
- Protect yourself from catching Covid-19 in exactly the same way you would protect yourself from any other virus. Wash your hands properly, sneeze or cough into a tissue, quarantine yourself if you feel you may have caught something. Visit the NHS website for further advice.