The COVID-19 Omicron variant is now out in our community and the spread in cases saw a shift to Phase Two. With further surges being predicted over the next few weeks smart operators will use the current time to prepare their businesses for the likely challenges.
The good news is that most people who have contracted the Omicron variant have experienced relatively mild health symptoms. The bad news is that it is very contagious, and at Phase Two the government will be requiring persons who test positive and their contacts to isolate for a period of 10 days (for cases) or 7 days (for contacts).
Keeping Employees in Separate Bubbles
Given the isolation requirements, it will be a good idea to split up your workforce into separate “bubbles” (ie. teams, shifts, or whatever your workplace parlance requires) that do not have any direct contact with each other. By doing this, you will be able to avoid having your whole staff in isolation should one employee have a positive COVID test.
If you can split your staff into two separate bubbles then a positive test in only one of the bubbles will still leave you with approximately half of your staff available for work. If you can split your staff into more than two bubbles, that will be even better. The more bubbles you can practically split your staff into, the less affected your business will be if your staff start testing COVID-positive.
During phases Two and Three of the Omicron response, businesses may have vaccinated, asymptomatic “close contacts” onsite if the worker is not customer-facing and can maintain a “bubble of one” while at work (including travelling to and from work). The detailed “Bubble of One” requirements and other requirements for returning to work during omicron are available by clicking here.
At the risk of stating the obvious, implementation of these measures needs to be clearly communicated and well-managed.
Anticipating more supply chain disruptions
If there is widespread absenteeism in the transport and distribution sector due to an increase in the rate of COVID infection (and the associated isolation requirements), then it is to be expected that supply-chain disruptions will also increase.
So it will be smart to increase your inventories of critical supplies and bring forward orders for your critical items.
It would also be smart to identify alternative sources of supply (for both non-critical items and critical items if possible), and transport alternatives that you could use if your usual transport arrangements fail.
Keeping in touch with customers
In addition to communicating with your employees, you need to make sure that you keep in touch with your customers. If you don’t maintain the contact, you are providing an opportunity to your competitors to step in to exploit the communication gap.
Could be that some of your customers will voluntarily self-isolate during an Omicron surge out of an abundance of caution. So you need to remind them that you still value their business, and explain how they can order without visiting your premises. Easy if you already have an e-commerce website, but otherwise you need to have some other system whether that be by email (send them an up-to-date order form) or by telephone ordering.
And if you don’t have any system at all for your customers to do business without visiting your premises, it is certainly time for you to set one up!
Is your business Omicron-ready? What additional measures have you had to take? If you would like to discuss these or any other issues give Russell or me a call.