MNP says businesses need plan for COVID-19

March 26, 2020, 5:24 am
Rob Paul Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

MNP Partner Mark O’Rourke.

With COVID-19 impacting Canada more and more each day, businesses are starting to feel the fallout.

Many businesses have taken precautions in their offices, others have their employees working from home, and some have temporarily had to shut down.

With such unpredictability surrounding the situation and the circumstances being extreme, many businesses are having to prepare for disruption from COVID-19.

To help businesses in a tough time, MNP has put together a guideline for dealing with COVID-19.

“We’ve got a whole team that takes care of this from the top. We’ve got a firm marketing team, thousands of professionals that deal with this stuff and put business plans together,” said MNP Partner Mark O’Rourke.

During this time MNP recommends four main focusses for businesses, people, technology, business operations, and brand and reputation.

MNP says staff need to be educated on smart health habits as well work-from-home policies.

When it comes to technology, MNP says to watch out for cyber attackers trying to take advantage of people’s fears using the COVID-19 scare.

MNP says it’s vital to establish both a Response Plan and a Business Continuity Plan for business operations.

The Response Plan needs to assess potential disruptions and implement response strategies while also monitoring COVID-19 updates to adapt as new information comes out.

The Business Continuity Plan is for looking at what could go wrong and developing strategies to address the affects.

They recommend looking at business operations from every angle when it comes to the impact of COVID-19.

For employee travel, MNP says first businesses should refer to travel advisories from the Public Health Agency of Canada and consider the impact of potentially needing to quarantine employees upon their return.

MNP also says when it comes to business interruptions insurance covering pandemics that it depends on a businesses policy and the circumstance of the loss.

In terms of brand and reputation, MNP says businesses should consider communicating with employees and customers about any plans that are in place and to be crisis communication ready.

The economic landscape for businesses is constantly changing, even more so now with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and O’Rourke says it’s imperative to be as prepared as possible.

“We’re handling this step-by-step,” said O’Rourke. “Just kind of wait and see what comes out on the news, make decisions when we can, we have a full-scale plan for worst-case scenarios and can implement them when we need to.”

O’Rourke says MNP began preparing when they saw the global impact COVID-19 was having.

“Knowing what happened around the world, we had developed a plan from a firm level on what ifs,” said O’Rourke.

There’s no way of knowing if a business is prepared enough with an unknown like COVID-19 says O’Rourke.

“From clients of mine I’ve been getting constant calls and emails, saying ‘we’ve done this much of a plan, have we done enough? Do we need to go further?’ It’s an incredibly tough question to answer because you don’t know how far you need to go,” said O’Rourke.

“I have had clients that have been in constant communication with me discussing the matter and how they should proceed and just running plans and asking for some general advice.”

Now that COVID-19 is here, O’Rourke says there’s nothing more important for a business than to have a plan and be constantly adjusting as more information becomes available.

“It’s the most important thing out there,” said O’Rourke. “Businesses need to have a plan and guidance for themselves and their employees to fall on.”

“Given the rapid evolution of this, without a plan it’s going to be tough. You’re going to need a plan in place.”

The overall long-term economic impact is impossible to know says O’Rourke and businesses need to be more prepared than ever.

“I think the economic impact of this is completely unknown at this time,” said O’Rourke. “I expect it is going to be big enough, the longer something like this carries on, the bigger the impact is.”

“There’s an immediate impact for sure, people can quantify the immediate impact, but I don’t think anybody understands what the long-term impact of this may be or how long it may last, I think there’s a lot of unknowns at this point in time.”