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Coping with Covid-19 - the Business Response

How quickly can you rewrite your business continuity plans?

By Monika Ciesielska-Mróz of PM Group
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Should multinational companies rewrite their corporate business continuity plans (BCPs) to incorporate global pandemics?  This is a case study of the experiences of PM Group – an international provider of specialist engineering, construction, and project management services.

In the future, we will all remember 2020 as an extraordinary and extremely challenging year. The global pandemic has significantly affected every aspect of our lives. We have suffered from serious impacts to our personal well-being, we have lost control of many things we previously took for granted. The entire world faced an economic shutdown and a crisis that few have ever experienced. It is obvious that the year’s events will dramatically change our future social and business behaviours. The pandemic will influence everyone’s personal and working lives, no matter what our location or business.

Unprecedented challenge

For PM Group, like many international organisations, the Pandemic posed new and unprecedented challenges. As an engineering, project and construction management company, complexity is part of PM Group’s DNA. The company operates from 15 offices across Europe, Asia and the US and has a 47-year track record serving the world’s leading companies in life sciences, mission-critical and advanced manufacturing. 

As the pandemic spread across the world, it became obvious that a significant addition to our business continuity planning (BCP) would be required.

The BCP process

The PM Group’s emergency BCP detailed the actions needed to recover essential services in a timely and controlled manner and to restore normal operations after a serious business disruption. Emergencies range from a single serious persistent fault in our email system to a major incident such as significant physical damage to an office building.

Early learnings from Asia

At PM Group, we had been dealing with the situation for some time as our offices in Shanghai and Singapore were impacted first. We already had teams working on the various aspects that need to be addressed from the most basic hygiene advice to remote working solutions.  We were able to learn much from their experiences.

Planning for the unknown

With the Covid-19 pandemic, we had no way of knowing how long it would last nor how the situation would change from week to week. Therefore, making additions to our plans would prove challenging.  However, we have people and plans in place to deal with the situation as it evolves.

Once again, the health and safety of our people, clients, suppliers and our communities is our primary concern. We have a multi-disciplinary, Covid-19 Response Group (CRG) in place to monitor and manage our response across our locations. The goal of the CRG is to ensure the health and safety of our people and business continuity for our clients. The CRG meets on a regular basis and references guidelines from the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centre for Disease Control (CDC) as well as regional advice. We are also ensuring that our people understand the business-critical requirements on our client sites. We have been working hard on behalf of our people to minimise the disruption both to our business and to people’s personal situation whatever that might be.

Health & Safety

Our first priority was to our people and their Health & Safety and that of their families. A number of measures were taken such as working from home/distributed working, in the early stages reducing personnel density in the offices, splitting teams and so on. Regular virtual meetings with our employees is helping to update them on how the business has been adapting to this situation. Most important, we have implemented amendments to our comprehensive employee assistance programme to ensure the right supports are available for our people. It would prove particularly important during the pandemic as it focuses on the well-being, financial and other advisory supports.

The communication cornerstone

Consistent, regular communications with our clients and stakeholders is a cornerstone of our BCP process.  As the Covid-19 pandemic continued to sweep across the world, we increased the extent and depth of our communications. Our primary goal was to ensure our clients understood our commitment to the continuation of services to their business. We also needed to understand their priorities as many are ‘essential’ businesses.  We continue to work alongside them to ensure the right services are in place.

The future

There will inevitably be challenges over the coming months and we will work closely with our people, clients and stakeholders to mitigate any associated disruption.  Pandemics are now part of our business continuity planning process. Critically, the new section will help us to protect our people, clients, trade partners and stakeholders. It will enable us to be more responsive and to continue to develop our business.

For now, we look forward to a time when we will be able to resume normal working and interaction, albeit in a different shape.

To find out more about PM Group and our response to the challenging Pandemic’s time please visit our website www.pmgroup-global.com

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