The latest Coronavirus outbreak, which has crossed 7K infected and has reached triple-digit deaths, has effectively reached the Pandemic stage as it exists in 20 countries and has effectively shut China down. As the World Health Organization scrambles to deal with the problem, there is a product in the market for organizations that will help them assure the safety of their people. That product is AtHoc by BlackBerry, and it may be the right solution to assure you know where and how safe your employees are and to help direct and coordinate your efforts to keep those employees from getting infected or getting them to the care they need if infected. (As I write this the Coronavirus just had its first person to person infection in the US).
Let’s talk about why BlackBerry AtHoc may be the best tool to ensure this virus doesn’t shut you down.
Communications Management During A Crisis
One of the big problems during a large disaster is making sure that disaster doesn’t destroy the firm’s ability to function. And a firm is made up of its employees, so if too many those employees are unable to work, the firm is effectively out of business. The goal of communications management is to assure the continuity of the business during a disaster by assuring the safety of the employees and providing a coordinated response to any risk to the firm or those employees.
You need to know where the employees are, whether they are safe if they can get to work, and be able to coordinate replacement employees should they become disabled, unable to travel to work, or have to focus on getting to safety. And, regarding getting to safety, a comprehensive communications management tool is generally required to help with that effort.
It is interesting to note that on 9/11 when the Twin Towers fell, it was the BlackBerry two-way pagers that kept running even after the cell towers failed to showcase how important BlackBerry has always been during catastrophes.
BlackBerry AtHoc is a crisis communications tool that allows firms to account for 100% of their workforce with real-time visibility into their safety and status with the goal of not only assuring their safety but also assuring your business’ continuity.
What AtHoc does, it unifies all the communications modalities that are available to assure the firm can communicate rapidly with the employee, and the employee can communicate back on their status with single-click efficiency. It also fosters collaboration as the various response organization coordinates their activities focused on keeping the largest number of employees safe and secure during a time of crisis.
It favors one aspect of disaster response that I’ve often advocated myself, and that is situational awareness. Using the feet already on the ground allows them to become the eyes and ears of the organization’s operation center, allowing for faster deployment, a more effective kit out for the specific problem, and far better knowledge of what the response team will face before they arrive.
The product allows a manager to get status from individuals or groups of employees, expanding to the entire employee base of the company if needed. It provides a detailed report on each recipient receiving an alert and gives management an at-a-glance dashboard for the overall site or company situational awareness. It also compiles details across the organization to provide a detailed snapshot of how the firm’s employees and facilities are dealing with the disaster. Outbound messages are generally preprogrammed so they can be delivered very quickly during a crisis and already have built-in guidance and best practice references to help everyone survive the disaster. AtHoc allows for task hierarchies so that if one employee can’t perform a critical task, the next employee in line is automatically contacted and pointed to that task reducing downtime and speeding up responses significantly
Communications is bi-directional so that decision-makers fully benefit from the feet already on the street, and neither employees nor managers are shooting from the hip when it comes to mitigating the crisis. Both sides remain connected, allowing for a far more agile response to a developing disaster.
Currently, the product is used by over 2000 organizations globally as a major part of these organizations’ disaster response plans.
Applied To The Coronavirus
Applied to this latest outbreak, managers could determine what employees and regions are at risk and deploy policies, already written, to moderate that risk. Employees would know how to reduce their risks, evacuation plans (if necessary) could be coordinated, and senior management would be able to better assure the continuity of the business by shifting responsibilities from divisions in the infected zones to divisions in safe areas. This all could not only assure the firm’s continued operations but reduce dramatically the number of employees put at risk.
When we have an international disaster like the latest Coronavirus outbreak, being prepared may be the best response to it. When we have fast-moving disasters, our efforts to keep our employees safe and businesses operating will depend on our communications tools. The best one I know of is the AtHoc tool from BlackBerry, which was developed for this kind of a problem. If you can keep your employees safe, you can generally recover from any disaster, but if you can’t, then the outcome will be far direr than it needed to be.
Make sure your disaster preparedness programs are up to date and encompass pandemics, and if you don’t have AtHoc, consider getting it because the company and life you save could be your own.