What if one of your staff tests positive for COVID-19?

Companies across Australia are beginning to implement return to work strategies as restrictions are being lifted post the COVID-19 health scare.

The question on everyone’s mind is – what happens if someone in the office becomes infected?

WA commercial risk expert Natalie Fox, who was part of the team that managed the latest infection at a Perth CBD quarantine hotel, offers insights on how companies can effectively manage if the situation does occur.

“Panic is a natural reaction,” says Fox, who is Managing Director of Perth-based national commercial consultancy Riskadvisor.

She believes that keeping business risk plans simple with a strong focus on clear and ongoing communication are the most important elements.

“The conversations we’re regularly having with executives and HR managers is how can their company regain some form of control over the situation.

“Each time we’ve had the same answer – develop an agile and relevant business continuation plan.”

Dan O’Regan, Managing Director of insurance brokerage firm RiskCorp Insurance Brokers, agrees that contingency planning is paramount and gives companies more influence to proactively assess where their risks are.

“Risk comes in many forms,” O’Regan said.

“Companies that embrace their commercial exposure actually have more control about their growth. In the past, the focus has been very much on health, safety and environment but the new normal now goes so far beyond that.

“What companies are learning is that assessing where your commercial vulnerabilities are gives you more power to control a situation.”

Both Fox and O’Regan agree the only way to effectively achieve that is to invest time to identify and prioritise potential risks.

O’Regan believes, “The best approach is to group your risks into categories – from digital and cyber to operational, financial, and environment and safety – creating a foundation to understand what the potential impacts will be.”

Fox stresses, “Companies need to make this situation an opportunity, use the lessons from COVID-19 to map and create a robust business continuity plan – that way you’re in a stronger position if a similar scenario happens again in the future.”