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6 tips for reducing business disruption with Omicron in the community

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

Current at Thursday 3 February 2022

As Omicron makes itself known in our community, restrictions have been adjusted again in order to keep New Zealanders safe.

The Red traffic light setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework is not a lockdown but includes increased restrictions that the Government has put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. For businesses, this can be a stressful time, we have provided some tips to help you develop a solid contingency plan, so that you can continue to operate without too much disruption.

Things to consider in your business at Red

1. Identify the key people and key role risks in your business and consider the impact if they were to be off work sick or caring for family at home for a prolonged period of time

a. Run through the roles in your business and determine the level of risk if that person was to be out of action for a long period of time. Have a plan for how you will arrange backup or cover for these roles under certain scenarios

b. An example of a key role in most businesses is the person that does your payroll; who else could cover this function? Is it something you could outsource in the short term?

2. Arrange access to the information you might need if someone is at home isolating

a. Ensure you (or more than one person) have access to key systems in preparation for key people who are absent from work, for example, scheduling, your payroll system, etc.…

3. Consider splitting your team into different groups – where possible

There are many ways to re-organise how your team works to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading through your entire business, some examples are shared below:

a. You could split your employees into teams, with each team operating onsite on designated days of the week. At Velocite for example, we are running two teams. One team can work in the office Monday – Wednesday and the other team does Thursday – Friday. Wednesday will alternate each week. This helps to reduce the risk of the entire team being taken out of play if someone was to get sick

b. It may be possible to run shifts at different times of the day. For example, having a team that works onsite in the morning and a different team that works onsite in the afternoon

c. Some of our clients are running physical zones in their workplace to keep different teams separate from each other; where different teams cannot cross into different zones to reduce the risk of being close contacts

d. If some of your team is working from home, consider flexibility arrangements such as work hours over 7 days or different times of the day

e. As mentioned in point 1, ensure you think about which roles and people are critical to the day-to-day running of your business. Consider this when you are splitting your team to reduce key person risk. At Velocite, we have separated people with similar areas of expertise into different teams so that if one person is out of action we have a backup person to cover that role

4. Connect with your suppliers or customers to discuss potential changes to your business as a result of the rule changes

a. Understand what their onsite visitor policy is and if your team needs to do anything to prepare before going on-site

b. Communicate your onsite visitor policy with your customers and suppliers. For example, if you are a Vaccination Pass business, what they should expect on arrival

c. Clearly communicate and set expectations around supply shortage and labour shortage impacts on timeframes with your customers

5. Communication with your employees

Have you communicated to your employees what the plan would be if they are home isolating? Consider including the following in your communications plan:

a. Your leave policy when someone is required to be home isolating. Have a clear understanding of other support out there like government subsidies if your team run out of sick leave/alternative leave

b. Your working from home policy and what that means for each team members role

c. Ensure your team understands what is required of them under your policy and has the tools to implement your policy, for example, if you’re a Vaccination Pass business, having the tools to scan vaccination passes

Another thing to consider is how you will check in with your team or support them if they are unwell. Ensure you have an up-to-date employee contact list so you can reach them by phone quickly.

6. Appoint a Covid response internal champion for reliable information and change management

a. Who is responsible for communicating changes to the team?

b. Who will keep on top of the Government guidance coming out, and who will perform your risk assessment for your business?

c. Ensure your health and safety policies are up to date to include Covid-19 and communicate any changes to your team

d. If you delegate these responsibilities to one or two people, staff will have a sense of security and consistency in the workplace

We know that uncertainty weighs heavily on your mind as a business owner. That is why our first Breakfast Series for the year has been created specifically to empower you to confidently plan for uncertainty in 2022. The series is designed to take you from uncertainty to a confident plan that is agile enough to navigate all possible scenarios for your business. The events are free and hosted online. To learn more and register your spot visit here.

How else can we help?

Just as we did during the first Covid-19 response, we are reviewing and updating our information as soon as it comes out. If you have any questions on any of the above, please reach out to us here.

If anyone in your Finance Team is off work for a prolonged period, please get in touch to see how one of our team might be able to fill the gap in the short term. Contact Jaimee, here.

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