As the impact of the Covid-19 virus becomes ever more real, how can your business weather the challenges this pandemic presents?
It’s widely accepted that 80% of effective crisis management is in the planning rather than the response. Effective planning of course involves identifying and mitigating risks but should also include a robust approach to clear communications.
If you are a company with customers or suppliers overseas, or with a foreign workforce, there are a number of areas to urgently assess:
Employing foreign nationals
As the BBC’s medical correspondent, Fergus Walsh, has pointed out on several occasions, washing one’s hands is more than a ‘dangle under the tap’ and instead should last as long as two renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’, with hot, soapy water vigorously applied to wrists, hands and fingers.
If how to carry out such a simple task has, to date, been open to interpretation amongst those who speak the same language, what of your staff members who are not native English speakers? Are you suitably reassured that they are fully conversant with the latest advice around washing hands and staying healthy?
How might you signpost them to information in their own language? Over the past fortnight, we’ve been asked to translate a Coronavirus Risk Assessment form into Polish and Romanian, as well as translate NHS signage and public information posters.
Any UK staff based overseas also need to be considered. Again in the last two weeks, we’ve been happy to advise a package holiday company on the translation of a Spanish Health Authority public health policy for its staff in affected resorts.
Meeting with your international clients or suppliers
Coronavirus, and the advice relating to it, is changing on a daily basis. Beyond the advice being offered for each country through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s travel warnings, are you keeping up to date on the advice from each health authority? Where this advice is not provided in English, how do you ensure accurate translation?
With so many travel restrictions in place globally, we are all faced with doing business in a very different way for the foreseeable future.
Rather than cancelling face-to-face meetings with your international network, have you considered replacing them with video conferences? If so, do you need to involve an interpreter in those meetings?
If you experience a delay in your own supply chain, the chances are your customer lead times will also be impacted. An additional threat exists where a significant number of staff need to self–isolate or where your operations may need to close for an indeterminant period of time.
How do you plan to communicate any anticipated productivity issues to your overseas customers? Are you offering any reassurance on your business continuity plans?
Broadening your supply chain
Concerns over delayed lead times from suppliers in countries such as China has led many businesses to look closer to home.
Where you’ve identified an alternative supplier in a European country, do you understand this new supplier market sufficiently well to make that first approach? Working with an organisation that not only translates for other markets but actively understands how these markets do business can help to accelerate new business relationships.
Taking action now on your crisis communications will reassure customers, suppliers and employers alike of your resilience as a business.
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