Practical Motivation From The Coronavirus

By MSAE Community posted 03-05-2020 00:00


People seem to fall into two categories when it comes to Coronavirus: those who are prepping for doomsday and those who are frustrated by the hype. In the very least, concerns of a possible pandemic can motivate us as association professionals to take a serious look at our preparedness for a crisis.

Employee health - Sometimes, employees feel like they have to report to work even if they're not feeling well due to workload or a big project. Check-in on your association's illness policy to make sure it's flexible enough to allow for not only employee illness but also their need to provide care to children and loved ones who may need extra help. Communicate your expectations of employees to stay home if they are sick, practice proper handwashing, and be mindful of the personal space of others. Provide kleenex and hand sanitizer for employee workstations or request that employees bring in their own. Ask your cleaning service to be particularly attentive to public areas, water coolers, handrails, light switches, and doorknobs.

Remote work - Can your association continue to conduct business in case of calamity? Whether from a prolonged snowstorm or fire suppression sprinklers gone haywire, associations need to have a plan for when business-as-usual isn't an option. Are all employee cell phone numbers loaded and ready to be messaged? Can office phones be forwarded? To whom? Will all employees be expected to work remotely or only some? Are employees equipped to do so? Do laptops get taken home every night? Will all software and data be available? Practice your plan at least occasionally, so employees feel well prepared and to identify and resolve issues before the need is critical.

Event practices - Associations need to have clear guidelines and procedures in place regarding event cancellation. Now is an excellent time to take a look at your risk associated with events. Start with existing contracts with properties - are they reflective of realistic scenarios? Jeff Tenenbaum, Esq., of Tenenbaum Law Group PLL, suggests looking at your Force Majeure clause as most properties favor language that allows termination without penalty only if it is impossible to host the event. He advocates for language that references commercial impracticability instead. Next, look closely at your event cancellation insurance. Don't assume coverage when it comes to infectious disease. Most policies bound after January of 2020 exclude Coronavirus. If a policy covers Coronavirus or other infectious diseases, coverage only applies if the disease has been officially declared an epidemic or pandemic.

Communications - Whatever your intention, your actual response will only be as good as your documentation and communication. Once you've drafted plans, have them reviewed by legal counsel to ensure alignment with board policy, the employee handbook, office procedures, insurance policies, and existing contracts. Then make sure internal and external communication plans (with draft communiques) are in place and ready to deploy.

At this week's Associ8@5:08, we heard the unfortunate news that a few large corporate conferences scheduled at Lansing properties have already been cancelled. Let us know how the Coronavirus is impacting your organization and if we can be helpful.

Meanwhile, here are a few excellent resources related to Crisis Planning and/or Coronavirus: