March 23, 2020 - Tennessee

COVID-19 Take Your Business from a Reactive to Proactive Stance
  by Marlee Mitchell, Wes Scott, Nigel Vorbrich, Mark Bell, Travis Parham, Michael Harmon, Julian Bibb, Richard Hills, John Park, Steffen Arters, Donovan Sowder

“One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.”

- Winston Churchill

As responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have evolved over the course of the first quarter, you and your business have reacted swiftly to ensure the health and safety of your customers, partners and employees. However, as you look forward to the second quarter, it is clear that this public health crisis is likely to have a lasting impact on your business and its ongoing operations. While you continue to react to present needs, you’re simultaneously beginning to consider both short- and long-term proactive measures to fully prepare for the potential long-term financial and economic impacts on your company. What should you do most immediately to ensure the viability of your business?

Below is a brief list of items of short-term measures that you should consider for in the near future. We’re actively assisting clients in assessing these areas and helping them shift from a reactive to a more proactive stance. If you wish to explore any of the items discussed below, we’re available to discuss these and any other matters as you navigate through this difficult time.

Designate a Small Core Team to Act and Communicate

In order to be proactive about responding to the various issues that could arise from the spread of COVID-19, you should consider designating and empowering a small, core team to take decisive actions on behalf of the business. A contact list with cell phone numbers should be distributed and kept current. The response team should be supported by experts, advisors and subject matter specialists. The response team should be small but diverse, provided with significant authority to deal with any matters that may arise during the crisis, and should report to the company’s executive team or board of directors on the crisis response. You should keep in mind that, as is the case with any crisis, communication to all stakeholders in your business is key. You should ensure that regular and coordinated efforts are made to keep employees, major customers, suppliers, owners and others apprised of new information and actions being taken to respond to any new or anticipated threats posed by the crisis.

Assess and Continue to Improve Remote Working Arrangements

In light of recent “safer at home” mandates and to continue safe operations for employees and customers, you may have required all or some of your employees to work remotely, or you may have implemented certain other practices to encourage social distancing (for instance, most banks and restaurants in urban areas are now providing drive-thru only services to their customers). Accordingly, it is crucial that you review and update your policies related to employee remote working arrangements, organizational structure and succession, corporate governance and confidentiality practices to ensure that you’re adequately protecting your business in light of the rapidly changing economic environment and potential changes in security controls.

With regard to remote working arrangements, security is critical during this time. Developing and following an Information Security Policy is an important first step. Designating select employees who will have remote access, making sure that those employees are trained on proper login protocols, such as virtual private network (VPN) access, and developing a system for regular communication among remote employees are a handful of the key considerations when implementing remote working arrangements. For more information regarding current workplace best practices and remote working arrangements, please seethis Waller blog post.


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