How New Zealand Businesses Can Adapt To Coronavirus Challenges And Opportunities

Monday 23 March 2020, 2:20PM
By Henrietta D

As much as there is business uncertainity owing to COVID-19, the current situation can also present opportunities to businesses.

While it may not be business as usual; vision, confidence and flexibility are key for businesses at this stage. This can be the best time to work closely with suppliers and customers building long-lasting loyal relationships. This could also be an opportune time to redesign the office workspace or carry out the office fit out with minimal staff interruptions.  This can also be an opportunity to retrain or even cross-train staff.  If the competition is currently slowing down their marketing efforts, this could be the time to continue or grow marketing efforts. The successful businesses even during these times are the ones that think differently and seek an outcome that is of benefit for themselves and all stakeholders.

Workplace preparedness for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has meant assessing health and safety risks hour by hour. Businesses must follow latest Ministry of Health advice about preventing COVID-19 and to promote good hygiene practices at work. They also must identify and manage any emerging risks brought about by the COVID-19 situation. For example, changes in consumer demand may impact worker health and safety, and supply issues for worker personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Minimising the spread of coronavirus is important to keep employees safe and well at work. This should be done before thinking about the interests of the business or organisation. The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 requires that employers take all practicable steps to mitigate risk and protect workers at all times from workplace hazards. Any infectious disease encountered in the workplace is considered a workplace hazard. Workers also have a responsibility to look after their own health and safety and of others and to follow health and safety instructions that they are given.

Responsible businesses should have measures in place to combat the spread of infectious diseases. These include:

  • Getting immunised against infectious diseases and providing immunisations to workers (such as the seasonal influenza vaccine) 
  • Washing and drying hands regularly and well
  • Staying at home if they are sick
  • Covering coughs and sneezes
  • Provide appropriate protection to staff who, by the nature of their work, may be required to have contact with people who are sick (for example, health care workers)
  • Arrange workspaces so that there is a distance of 3 feet among people
  • Discourage workers from using other workers’ phones, desks, offices, or other work tools and equipment, when possible
  • Regularly clean the workplace. This includes daily cleaning of all surfaces with an appropriate cleaner and disinfectant.  The cloth used should be disposable or if reusable be cleaned and dried.
  • Ensure good ventilation and air conditioning systems are vented to the outside than re-circulate air