Is your business ready for Omicron? by Stewart Russell
We have the advantage of seeing what businesses in other countries are facing now.
One of the common problems is a lack of staff to perform tasks. As more people catch COVID and with minimum isolation periods of 7 – 10 days (depending on the local regulations) many businesses are finding that they do not have enough staff to operate at normal capacity, if at all.
What are you going to do if half your team phone in sick, and are going to be absent for probably over a week?
Do you have in place strategies to minimize the spread of Omicron within your workplace? It appears that Omicron is more easily transmissible than Delta, so if it gets into your workplace, it is likely to spread amongst your team – what can you do to minimize the impact?
One option might be to operate in separate bubbles, or separate work areas to try and minimize the direct contact within your teams. Another option is remote working where possible.
In other countries some employees are required to take regular tests before they can go to work – will NZ have enough of these tests available and will the testing regime be able to handle the increase in demand?
Employers may want to encourage more face mask use if it isn’t already a requirement for your type of business.
Another impact we are seeing from Australia is problems with supply chain and logistics. To date the
issue here has been getting supplies into the country, and the disruption to sea and air freight. However, we are now seeing challenges with truck drivers catching Omicron, which puts them out of action for a week, thus disrupting local deliveries.
Each business owner needs to assess the risks in their own business and develop a strategy to deal with staff absences, delays in the supply chain, and change in consumer demand.
Employees are your biggest asset, and we need to ensure our team feel safe and supported. Be aware of their mental health needs which become even more important as this pandemic continues. If your business is a Xero user there is a Xero Assistance Program (XAP) which provides free and confidential well-being support for you and any of your employees.
As with lots of things in business - failing to plan is effectively planning to fail. So make your plan now whilst you have time to calmly consider how you will deal with the challenges that Omicron may bring. We will have to be flexible and adapt to the changing environment.
If you have any queries, there is a lot of COVID information on the government website www.business.govt.nz or ask your friendly business adviser.
Take care and stay safe.