No one was prepared to handle the COVID-19 outbreak. What do security directors need to do now to address it? Here are six important steps to mitigating the risk associated with this outbreak.  

The impacts of COVID-19 are growing every day and won’t be fully understood for months. Even small businesses that don’t engage in global travel will and are being affected by the virus, and organizations with colleagues in healthcare, retail, hospitality, and many other sectors face significant potential exposure to the virus.

Corporate Security Directors play a pivotal role in collecting, processing, and disseminating intelligence to all stakeholders within the company quickly and efficiently. Maintaining business continuity during a crisis can often be at odds with upholding the company’s duty of care, so executives require accurate information to make the right decisions and communications tools to keep everyone informed. 

Scott Frigaard, a subject matter expert within advanced security solutions for smart cities, has outlined six major action steps to assist companies in their efforts to navigate the COVID-19 outbreak.

  1. Form a COVID-19 Committee

Committee

One of the first steps of an effective response plan involves forming a COVID-19 Committee. Serving as a unified clearinghouse for all COVID-19 information, the Committee should rapidly acquire, process, and distribute information across the organization. The Committee should also communicate with partners, outside service providers, and customers to ensure coordination and keep everyone informed.

Members of the Committee should include, at a minimum: corporate security, human resources, legal, IT, marketing/communications, operations, and finance. Additionally, an executive-level sponsor should be assigned from each Committee’s department.

The roles and responsibilities of the Committee

  • Actively monitoring the development of the virus outbreak and working with management to disseminate messages to colleagues with clear instructions when measures need to be activated

  • Educating colleagues on the latest available information on the virus, briefing them on the need for infection control measures and the preventive procedures that have been set in place

  • Designating a regional Point of Contact (POC) who will be responsible for liaising with the Committee to implement the requirements, instructions, and policies in their region

  • Collating updated contact information of all colleagues and ensuring that all colleagues have contact numbers of the regional POC and regional business leader

  • Ensuring that colleagues who have traveled to affected areas (as defined by the CDC as Warning Level 2 & 3) and feeling unwell are advised to self-quarantine for the recommended number of days

  • Appointing managers to check on the colleague’s health by phone or email during their absence from work and keep quarantined colleagues informed of events in the office

2. Create a Fusion Center to aggregate, analyze, and disseminate information

Fusion Center

A Fusion Center is a technology and communications war room whose mission is to maintain the most up-to-date and accurate information on all people, operations, and virus status.

With the help of the latest technology applications, the Fusion Center should be capable of providing visualization tools and dashboards to monitor status of key performance indicators, essential personnel, critical assets, critical operations, locations, fixed and mobile assets, inventory, key suppliers, and many more. 

Furthermore, utilizing Advanced Solutions will enable the Fusion Center to visualize all operations and personnel on a map, provide deep dives into the facility level, and present third party data overlays, allowing your organization to maintain top efficiency.

Major requirements for the Fusion Center

  • Should be able to support the required number of staff

  • Has to possess technology platforms to allow the integration of security and IT systems

  • Should provide enough workstations for operators and analysts, as well as displays for executive briefings

3. Assess your risk

Risk Management

Utilize information from national and global public health agencies, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for categorizing risk, in order to identify, predict, and mitigate the impact of the virus outbreak within your organization.

Factors to include in your risk assessment

  • What personnel and operations are, or have been, in areas with symptomatic laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 cases?

  • What components of the supply chain may be impacted, and how does that affect the manufacturing and operations processes and lead times?

  • What are the minimum staffing levels at a given facility to maintain levels of production or operation?

  • How will a disruption in your supply chain affect inventory or services?

  • Will hourly employees find other jobs if their positions are suspended without pay?

4. Establish communication protocols

Communication

Clear, consistent, and transparent messaging is critical to alleviate employee anxiety, inform customers, and maximize productivity in the face of reduced staff. An effective mass notification system should help your organization to maintain effective and consistent communication with all employees and contractors. 

Considerations for communication protocols

  • Does your organization have a tool to track personnel infection and recovery status, and  then communicate changes back to the COVID-19 Committee?

  • Is the COVID-19 Committee in contact with liaisons at key customers in order to inform them of  action plans and impacts to customer support?

  • Is the COVID-19 Committee in contact with key suppliers to monitor the supplier’s infection levels and operational, inventory, or distribution impacts?

5. Establish policies and procedures

Policies and Procedures

Promptly create and enact employee travel policies that will provide clear definitions of what is essential and nonessential in terms of business travels. Develop policies for personal travel with the guidelines which must be followed by your colleagues upon coming back to the office after a vacation. Ensure that your organization has a procedure and tools to monitor ongoing exposure risks.

Besides employee travel, however, it is also important to consider other practices that may transmit the virus and develop appropriate policies accordingly.

    Telecommuting policies

    • Can your employees and contractors telecommute? For how long?

    • Does your company have the technology and security measures in place for working and collaborating remotely?

    • Do managers know how to supervise remote workers?

    Visitor policies

    • Will you allow visitors into your facilities? What about service providers, contractors, vendors, and delivery personnel?

    • Do you have the ability to screen them for travel and exposure histories prior to them showing up onsite? 

    • Are you still conducting face-to-face interviews with new candidates?

    • Is a “deep clean” of your facilities a possibility? How often will it be repeated?

    6. Incorporate business continuity planning

    Business Continuity

    Identify all dependencies in your ecosystem to understand where disruptions might impact your supply chains, logistics, operations, sales, and service. Maintain continuous communication with employees, suppliers, vendors, and service providers to understand their preparations, inventory levels, and other important metrics. Identify potential points of failure in your ecosystem and plan for and identify alternatives.

    Convergint Can Help

    Convergint stands ready to support your efforts to minimize this epidemic’s impact on your organization.  

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