As the UK moves from a “contain” into a “delay” phase, businesses, public institutions and households across the country must now prepare for coronavirus (COVID-19) to become a new reality that will affect the way we go about our everyday lives.
The Chancellor’s Budget announcement on Wednesday reassured businesses and families that if they need short term help with finances due to the impact of the virus, then the support will be there. Over £30billion of state support has been earmarked to help tackle COVID-19 head on. The simultaneous move by the Bank of England (BOE) to cut the base rate to 0.25 percent offers further assistance, but further fiscal and monetary support will inevitably be required.
Yesterday’s public statement from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his scientific advisors sought to set out in more detail the path that we’re on, delivering difficult but important messages to the UK – namely that times ahead may be tough, individuals should take precautions, and that the Government has a plan.
But there is also a critical need for UK businesses and organisations to now be pro-actively planning and preparing for the weeks ahead.
Going into the weekend, we’ve pulled together three key actions and considerations that clients and businesses should now be taking seriously:
1. We’re in a “golden hour”, use it wisely.
As COVID-19 progresses, there will be key moments when your organisation will need to take decisive actions and seize opportunity to act quickly; putting in place people focussed procedures, outlining preventive measures and communicating to customers, suppliers, stakeholders and regulators. For many of us, we’re now in such a “golden hour”. Use the next few days ahead to plan and put any needed measures in place.
2. Consider setting up scalable Gold, Silver and Bronze command structures.
Whilst the UK is not yet in “critical mode”, organisations who will be most affected by the crisis should be considering how best to strategically react and manage the realities of an evolving business challenge or critical incident. Though historically this is a structure used by the emergency services, the Gold Command approach can pay dividends to both private and public organisations – allowing the business to rapidly develop a proactive strategy focused on core issues, whilst building capacity and creating lines of communications at operational and tactical levels.
3. Begin to identify new routes to communicate.
Our traditional routes to market or routes to engagement may be disrupted over the coming weeks. In particular, large gatherings and face to face engagement may prove increasingly difficult, and the national (and international) postal and delivery services may face disruption or a reduced service. In these instances, digital platforms will quickly become king. There is real potential for digital to come into its own – moving conferences and real-time events to virtual platforms, using video and virtual reality creatively, and building live chat functions to support phone hotlines, e-newsletters and social media, which could quickly become the solution for allowing “business as usual” to continue in some areas. BECG’s digital team is already advising clients on how digital can help maintain ongoing engagement and successful communication with key audiences.
For more information please visit our crisis planning and communications page, or to talk through your organisation planning and response contact me on 020 3697 7650 or at Jenny Riddell-Carpenter.