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6 Critical Event Management Tips to Reduce the Flu’s Impact on Your Business During COVID-19

During the current global health crisis, organizations are using critical event management (CEM) platforms powered by technologies like AI to protect their people and business operations from the perils of deadly viruses. Below, we discuss six ways companies can mitigate threats posed by the seasonal flu and COVID-19 by augmenting their expertise with a modern, AI-enabled CEM platform.

Step 1: Rapidly identify high-risk locations

Protecting employees from the flu and COVID-19 requires knowing where viruses are active and who has been exposed to them. This is no trivial task for organizations with operations across states, countries or continents.

The ideal CEM platform collects data from thousands of authoritative sources, from government agencies and international NGOs to hyperlocal sources, like community media, hospitals, clinics and public health departments.

To ensure analysts gain insights quickly, the CEM platform must be able to cross-reference all of this structured and unstructured data to determine what is accurate and timely, as well as pinpoint data that correlates back to the things that matter to you. Because outbreaks appear suddenly, the platform must process these workloads in real time.

Geolocation and geofencing are core capabilities that enable companies to understand if their employees have come in contact with high impact areas. With geolocation, the platform tracks the movements of employees via GPS-enabled smartphones, as well as vehicles with GPS-enabled sensors. Geofencing circumscribes the precise area of an outbreak and detects when a person approaches the danger zone.

Modern CEM platforms use mapping technology to provide visually-rich views of hotspots and employee movements, ideally presented via a dashboard. Armed with this visibility, security and travel personnel can:

  • Alert employees to the precise location of an outbreak
  • Issue instructions on quarantining and where to find medical treatment
  • Activate extraction plans for employees caught within hotspots

Additionally, geolocation and geofencing enable organizational contact tracing. As long as employees opt in and enable GPS on their devices, analysts can use the CEM platform to detect when any employee comes in contact with someone who has been exposed to a virus.

Step 2: Plan for inevitable absenteeism

Even when companies test for symptoms at their facilities and take the necessary precautions, external forces will still cause absenteeism. Such factors include school and day care closures, transportation-system shutdowns, government-mandated lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Whether employees are affected by the flu or COVID-19, their absence will impact operations. Companies can prepare by modeling potential emergency scenarios, prioritizing the most likely and severe, and developing alternative staffing plans for each scenario.

Additionally, modern CEM platforms enable companies to poll employees about their health. Regular wellness checks help leadership understand the full impact of the flu or COVID-19 on the workforce. With this information, analysts can quickly adjust production capacity and carefully plan employees’ return to the office.

Step 3: Continuously keep employees informed

Throughout the pandemic, public health experts have sporadically updated safety protocols. It’s reasonable to expect they will do so again during flu season. With today’s CEM platforms, companies can target employees with:

  • Critical safety updates from international, national, state and local public health authorities
  • In-state and in-country movement regulations and international travel restrictions
  • Announcements of country re-openings and easing of travel restrictions

To ensure messages reach recipients anywhere and at any time, the critical event management platform must be backed by a resilient, geographically-dispersed infrastructure. And it must enable organizations to reach employees on devices in addition to smartphones,  including phone systems, email, SMS and desktops.

Step 4: Adapt to changes in consumer demand

Sales of items that once sold briskly, like fashion, luggage and cameras, have plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic. But demand has skyrocketed for packaged foods, cough medicine and bread machines.

Just as modern critical event management technology can collect, validate and interpret data on hotspots, it can aggregate and analyze information from the news media, trade organizations and economic reports to identify changes in consumer behavior. Ideally, this information is displayed in the CEM platform as a risk intelligence report that provides knowledge that is visually rich and, at the same time, actionable and delivered in real time.

With deeper insights into consumers, businesses can protect their bottom line by adapting in ways such as:

  • Increasing or decreasing production of products based on changing demand
  • Boosting manufacturing in countries or regions where demand is strong
  • Rebalancing portfolios of products or services
  • Using existing manufacturing technology to create in-demand products like PPE
  • Temporarily adding to or decreasing the workforce
  • Shifting more or all sales online and selling directly to customers
  • Experimenting with innovations like pop-up warehouses

Step 5: Pivot quickly when disaster disrupts operations

For brands struggling with supply-chain disruptions, the inability to fulfill orders can shrink market share and damage brand reputation and goodwill—in some cases permanently—with consumers, wholesalers, resellers and retailers.

Using dynamic maps displayed on the critical event management dashboard, analysts can pinpoint interruptions caused by virus outbreaks and monitor the impact on facilities, logistics and employees. The platform should create alerts from intelligence reports and send them to production teams to optimize supply chains in ways that include:

  • Balancing production capacity: Shift manufacturing from a plant shut down by COVID-19 to a safe plant to minimize the impact on productivity and protect workers.
  • Reroute transport: Shift the delivery of products from a carrier with a distribution center in a flu or COVID-19 hotspot to other carriers less affected.
  • Expand supplier partnerships: Enlist additional suppliers to protect the company from points of failure in the supply chain.

Step 6: Create a second-wave response plan

Risk intelligence reports produced by modern CEM platforms reveal patterns of flu and COVID-19 outbreaks and provide evidence-based insights into how to respond to subsequent waves—or a new pandemic. Businesses should take this opportunity to double down on augmented risk intelligence, leveraging what they have learned to reimagine crisis management during flu season.

Today we have a clearer picture of the depth and breadth of hazards a global health crisis can cause. With the risk intelligence provided by modern CEM platforms, organizations can save employee lives and sustain operations, whether the enemy is seasonal flu, pandemic flu or a deadly, novel coronavirus like COVID-19.

Want to learn more about how to keep employees safe and business operations running during the pandemic?

Visit the COVID-19 Resource Center