Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Prepare for remote work.
That’s the message that public health officials and markets are sending as the nation may soon need to be prepared for extended periods of isolation. The COVID-19 Coronavirus ground the Chinese economy to a halt, but with the benefit of foresight we have the opportunity to protect ourselves and our economy from the same devastation.
It’s the central topic of conversation in every board room and investor call, board members and shareholders are demanding a risk assessment on their businesses and tirelessly working toward securing their own employee’s safety. And as this unfolds, it’s incumbent on every leader and board to develop strategies to mitigates the risks of this pandemic.
We may have to become accustomed to travel warnings, canceled conferences, and remote meetings. It’s time to dust off your disaster recovery plan and consider the unlikely possibility of the worst-case scenario playing out in the western world.
In the wake of the pneumonia-like disease, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Ford instructed their Chinese workforce to work remotely. That fate was shared in South Korea and Japan, where the virus led to shuttered schools and empty offices. And if the West fails to contain an outbreak, we should expect the same. What little solace we may take comes from the opportunity many of us share in the West to work remotely.
“A public health emergency that forefronts remote work as a national priority isn’t how we planned for 2020 – but we’re seeing a large demand for OnBoard as leaders contemplate an interruption in normal operations,” OnBoard Co-Founder & CEO Paroon Chadha noted in a recent interview. “We’re operating out of an abundance of caution and the utmost dedication to keeping our employees safe and our customers businesses running as normal as possible.”
As part of any sensible strategy to prepare for travel restrictions, leadership must act now to ensure their executive operations are minimally impacted. That their boards and committees are ready to work remotely is imperative. That oversight and responsibility continue to flow from the top so that when normalcy returns, businesses aren’t set back a quarter or more.
Many of our customers are using OnBoard for emergency meetings to develop and execute strategies to respond to this situation. That’s smart. The health and safety committee, the loan committee, the academic committee and other significant teams need to stay nimble and continue to operate effectively without undue risk. Every part of an organization, well beyond the board, needs to immediately plan and structure for their employees’ and customers’ health and safety.
We’re taking this seriously, but we’re not panicked. At our offices, we have extended our remote work policies and encouraged everyone to take additional precautions – everyone should seek medical care and take advantage of unlimited PTO when they feel ill. And we’re also fortunate that many of us already work remotely by leveraging technology to collaborate, chat, organize information, conduct meetings, and continue to support our customers.
As leaders contemplate how to protect the health of both their employees and their businesses, it’s prudent to create policies that anticipate remote work, should the need arise. Now is the time to get set up at your board and leadership level to confidently provide oversight through this turbulence. So your employees can continue to create value and have a connection. So we can keep ourselves and our families healthy. So we don’t bring our economy to a halt.
And while we all watch for developments, we’ll likely replace handshakes with a different form of greeting – a new Namaste.
Here’s hoping that this passes over quickly.
About The Author
- Paroon Chadha co-founded Passageways in 2003 and continues to lead its business strategy, as CEO. He serves on Boards at Passageways, Big Brother Big Sister of Greater Lafayette, Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, and TechPoint. He was a founding member of Youwecan.org, and is an angel investor in several technology companies.