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3 questions you must ask in your business’ COVID-19 response

Steve Jones
July 20, 2020

The key question in any COVID-19 response should not only be how can we get our employees back to work? Rather, it is getting back to the offices and facilities to make our businesses more productive and staying at those locations. All the while, avoiding scenarios where unmanaged response leads to health risks for employees and risk for the business.

There is no one solution that can answer all of the challenges in managing the risk associated with COVID. What works within an office might not be suitable on a production line or in a park. We are finding through work with clients is that it’s the sharing of data between the solutions that is enabling companies to adapt with the virus and make smart business decisions based on the current state of the outbreak and learnings from what does and doesn’t work. This must always be done in a way that respects the privacy of the individuals and protects the company from risk.

Our recommendation to businesses has been to evaluate approaches with the following core considerations:

  1. Will it add long-term value?
    • If not, it must be easy to dispose of and decommission the costs.
  2. Will it become commoditized?
    • Don’t invest significantly now in solutions that will be COSTS in a few months.
  3. Does it share its data?
    • If sharing of data is difficult, then it won’t help manage broader risk.

We also recommend that companies address the challenges in three stages, as we’re now in post-lockdown response:

  1. Establish the fundamentals
    • Self-certification and access control
      • Providing a digital channel for managing who can, and can’t come to work
    • Operational processes for HR
      • Contact tracing
      • HR and proactive isolation
    • Workforce scheduling
      • Cohort-/pod-based workforce management
    • Data platform
      • Reporting and dashboards including internal and external risk
  2. Automate and optimize
    • Evaluate contact tracking solutions to reduce the cost of contact tracing
    • Add monitoring and management solutions for density analysis and control to reduce risk

The fundamentals

To effectively manage disruption, businesses must be in control of the fundamentals. One of those foundational elements is to digitize the self-diagnosis and access control stages. This digital core provides a quick means for employees to request access and understand whether or not they should travel to work. By moving these efforts to mobile devices, or PCs, companies are able to help individuals manage their own risk, and importantly from a business cost perspective, it provides a digital channel to support contact tracing and isolation.

A data-centric approach that prioritizes privacy is key when managing the risk of the COVID response. Take contact tracing for example. We have worked with the likes of Salesforce, Zendesk, ServiceNow, AWS, and SAP to help organizations privately automate case management and even outsource the additional call center volumes required to more rapidly help employees return to work. It’s by focusing on contact tracing coupled with case management that lay the foundation for a healthy environment.

Another fundamental that falls into the critical category is managing the workforce. Workforce strategy is a core process for businesses to manage their risk. We’ve been recommending to our clients to move away from open planned scheduling to enforcing affinity between groups to reduce the amount of risk and the number of people who may have to be isolated in the event of a positive case. Initial efforts can be relatively manual but as information around staff immunity and locational risk are added in, this becomes more automated.

The final part of the fundamentals is creating a data platform on which this information can be securely shared, that respects privacy legislation, and incorporates the current external risk and government policies. This combines the data from all the solutions to help executives adjust policy and more actively manage the response to the pandemic based on business risk and the safety of employees.

To receive a COVID operational readiness assessment, please contact Steve Jones at

This blog is the first part of a two-part series. Read the second part here.