In the past few weeks, the rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has caused a paradigm shift in the way many businesses have to operate. We have numerous venues and attractions closed temporarily due to the virus. Governments are striving hard to find the best possible way to deal with this crisis, and are actively creating plans for business continuity in the wake of the pandemic. The government has also recently announced guidelines for businesses in the UAE to follow during the coronavirus outbreak, so as to ensure there is minimal impact on the UAE economy.
UAE Business Continuity Guidelines during Coronavirus Outbreak
Medical experts around the world are working day and night to come up with a vaccine to stem the spread of the virus. However, this exercise may take time.
To be able to give researchers enough time and ensure that a low percentage of the global population is impacted, governments are taking unprecedented measures to practice social distancing and curb the spread of the disease. The idea is to “flatten the curve” i.e. reduce the growth in the number of patients so our healthcare systems don’t get overwhelmed.
The UAE government has been proactive in this regard. The National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, NCEMA, announced the Business Continuity Guidelines, designed specifically for companies to maintain operations efficiently during this crisis.
This comprehensive document lists all the preventive and precautionary measures related to planning for operational resilience during the coronavirus outbreak in the UAE.
Organisations across the country have been directed to continually access their operations and identify efficient models to sustain businesses in the UAE during the coronavirus outbreak
- Identifying critical functions for the running of the business
- Ensuring the dependability of all parties involved
- Identifying back up locations for a business to operate from if the current location is affected by the virus
- Using technology such as remote working, artificial intelligence and electronic transformation to continue work operations
- Establishing protocols to reduce the chances of employees being exposed to the virus
- Early detection of suspects
- Securing supply chain networks to keep the manufacturing and development process running smoothly
Businesses also have to follow certain preventive measures during this period. These include:
- Following the guidelines authorised by the Ministry of Health, Community Protection and the relevant health authorities
- Disinfection and sterilisation of the workspace as per the standards set by the experts. Businesses need to follow all the instructions and meet the set requirements as per the official policy
- Making sure that all the health-related requirements are followed as per the nature of the work
- Organisations with a large workforce and with big residential complexes will allocate specific areas for temporary isolation
- Coordinating with relevant authorities to define medical and logistical requirements
- Raising security and safety protocol to handle any situation or suspicious cases
Companies in the UAE have been instructed to create official teams to undertake preventive measures and monitor the situation.
- Running exercises to test the team’s “readiness”
- Monitoring employee’s health. Inquiring about the travel history of employees in recent times and any travel plans in the immediate future (official or leisure)
- Using thermal detection devices (for organisations with a large number of customer inflow)
- Identifying and liaising with a hospital for treating coronavirus patients and for transfer of any suspect cases in future
- Providing any logistical support
Running of Day to Day Business – Working from Home in the UAE
Responsibilities and duties for the day to day operations for a remote work environment have also been outlined in the guidelines for businesses in the UAE during the coronavirus outbreak.
As per the UAE work guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, the top leadership of the company will be held responsible for directly monitoring and responding to any event. This also includes providing all the required resources for security and protection programs and following up until the achievement of objectives.
Similarly, the leadership will have to ensure that the business continues according to the continuity plan and risks are mitigated. Last, it will coordinate with external stakeholders (police, transport, ambulance, and hospitals) to manage the situation in an efficient manner.
Working from Home in the UAE
As per the NCEMA, the management has to classify employees into two categories; those who can perform their duties from home and those whose physical presence is essential for the business operations.
Arrangements should be made for the first group to work from home (remote work) as soon as possible. The management has to provide the necessary resources and ensure that the right technology is available.
They will also have to monitor remote work performance and attendance so that work standards are met.
If the site is affected and remote work isn’t possible, they will have to find another place to run operations. They can also outsource critical activities as and when required.
Reducing Contact and Power Delegation
This involves reducing the number of workers at a particular place by distributing critical duties. Also, employees should be allowed to work flexible hours. Similarly, line managers need to be given the authority to send an employee home if a need arises.
Supply Chain Management
The guidelines for businesses in the UAE during the coronavirus outbreak also directs companies to work on their supply chain network so work/production can continue as per usual.
The complete guidelines for businesses during the coronavirus outbreak can be downloaded from the official NCEMA website. This includes the Institutional Readiness form which can be used to make certain the guidelines are being followed accurately.
For any queries, you can contact the Safety and Prevention Department, Business Continuity Section at +971-2-419-9499, +971-2-417-7073 or +971-2-417-7154.
Organisations at federal, local and private levels in the UAE will be adopting these guidelines. To support each other during this global crisis, all companies must adhere to these requirements. Not only will this help reduce the threat level but it will also safeguard the future of businesses of all sizes and types.
The precautionary steps for coronavirus prevention taken by the UAE government is a proactive measure to ensure the safety and well-being of the public based on scientific research. Another step taken is the introduction of distance education in UAE schools.
It is important for companies and the individuals that run those companies to be model citizens during the coronavirus pandemic if we want to win the fight against Covid-19.
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