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Articles & Insights Mar 24 2020

We hope you and your staff are safe. With the now global pandemic situation, we are seeing scores of our clients activate their business continuity plans. Do you and your teams know what to do?

Here are some best practices we’re seeing:

  1. Maintain situational awareness. Be persistent in your tracking of outbreaks and progression of the virus – see Resources below
  2. Practice real-time response. Conduct tabletop walk-throughs of your crisis management and business continuity plans, using scenarios that escalate to additional outbreaks across offices.
  3. Arrange for equipment and services to help keep your people safe. This may include special cleaning services and supplies, masks and -- if possible -- test kits.
  4. Communicate openly and often with your stakeholders. Employees, customers, suppliers, partners, etc. Clear communication is essential.
  5. Limit or reduce travel for staff. Continue to make adjustments as the virus progresses.
  6. Consider a self-quarantine protocol. For example, two weeks’ remote work if staff have visited areas with confirmed outbreaks.
  7. Limit visitors or “social guests”. Minimize traffic coming into your offices.
  8. Review your key vendors. Work collaboratively to understand the business disruption potential for your business.
  9. Review your contracts and force majeure clauses. Understand your legal liability for work product and delivery to clients.
Here’s a few ways we can help:

Need someone to talk to?
Our business continuity and crisis management experts are available for a free one-hour telephone consultation. Use our expertise to help organize your thoughts, prioritize actions, and sort through your next steps. You drive the agenda. We provide broad perspective pulling from our diverse experiences and client base.

Is my plan ready?
Send us your crisis management or business continuity plan and our team will perform a quick review to identify strengths and areas for improvement. You receive an executive-level summary of findings to disseminate across your team.

What if I don’t have a plan?
We can get you started with a customized “play book” that provides foundational guidance around reporting, assessing, assembling, executing/managing, and resolving a pandemic event. The output is a digestible and usable field guide that can be quickly socialized across offices.

How can I get my teams ready?
Allow us to facilitate a tabletop exercise that stress-tests your team as it manages a pandemic event. Test your command and control structure. See how teams organize – at headquarters and across regional offices. We can conduct a series of tabletops for you, or we can conduct just the first few – with your team alongside and taking over the training responsibilities once ready and comfortable.

What if we’re already responding to COVID-19 exposure and my team needs help?
Call us. We specialize in emergency management. We bolster your team when it’s stretched and tired. We’ll partner with you to determine the resources you need and how best to source them – so you can successfully manage the crisis and get back to business as usual.


Here's where the situation stands as of October 07, 2020 (check back daily for updates):

The global COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen and compound daily. In the US, we're now in the state of National Emergency which opens up access to billions and possibly trillions in emergency funds for state, local and territorial governments, healthcare and other key organizations to get much needed funding to help them combat the impacts of the virus on their communities and organizations.

We continue to actively monitor the global situation. To date, there have been over 35.96M confirmed cases of Coronavirus with 1,051,138 total deaths worldwide.

Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Statistics Dashboard

Statistics dashboard courtesy of Johns Hopkins. For live tracker click HERE.

Here’s a few helpful resources to stay up-to-date:

Our advisors have deep expertise with ensuring your business is equipped to handle any crisis. Contact us at contact@wittobriens.com to speak with one of our advisors highlighted below or another Corporate Solutions expert.

Grace Burley
Grace Burley

Grace Burley, Managing Director of Corporate Resilience for Witt O'Brien's, has nearly two decades of experience in the crisis management industry. She has managed comprehensive planning, training, and exercise programs for companies and organizations in various industries and has received her business continuity certification from Business Continuity Institute (BCI).

Her strength is developing customized preparedness programs that effectively integrate: Crisis Management, Business Continuity, Emergency Management, Crisis Communications, Human Impact/People Support/Workplace Violence, and IT Disaster Recovery.

Devin Sirmenis
Devin Sirmenis

Devin Sirmenis, Managing Director of Corporate Resilience for Witt O'Brien's, is a risk and crisis specialist focused on corporate resilience and has served clients for 20 years as a trusted advisor. Devin works with executive leadership at Fortune 500 firms to assess and develop their crisis management programs, train crisis leaders, and stress test the ability to manage an enterprise threatening crisis through simulations.

Prior to joining Witt O'Brien's he led consultant programs at Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton and Perot Systems Government Services. Devin pairs his years of client experience with continuing education and has completed Harvard Kennedy School's Crisis Leadership Program, and holds a Change Management Advanced Practitioner certification from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.

Sean Fitzgerald
Sean Fitzgerald

Sean Fitzgerald, Managing Director of Witt O'Brien's Crisis Communications practice, is a heavyweight communications professional whose talent for strategic communications advice is relied on by Fortune 500 and international corporations. He is renowned for his clear thinking in assessing companies’ crisis-preparedness and reputation vulnerabilities and creating effective plans and response protocols to support companies in crisis.

Sean’s experience includes client-side and agency communications leadership, first at global brands Mattel and Levi Strauss, and subsequently with Ketchum, a leading global PR agency. He held senior roles at the agency, including Global Partner – Corporate/Public Affairs Practice, North America, President of the firm’s Greater China practice and leader of the firm’s Western USA operations.

Bob Patterson
Bob Patterson

Bob Patterson, Managing Director of Witt O'Brien's Energy market, has broad commercial experience with crisis and emergency management. He is focused on keeping businesses operating smoothly by understanding the threats they face and putting in place the plans, the people and the resources to be able to withstand shocks of all kinds.

In 30 years, Bob’s strategies for operational resilience including crisis management have helped industries as diverse as including energy, manufacturing, investment banking and financial services.

Mike Gallagher
Mike Gallagher

Mike Gallagher, Senior Managing Director of Witt O'Brien's Shipping & Transportation market, has more than 30 years of experience providing compliance, preparedness and response services to over 800 clients in the oil & gas, shipping, rail, and port industries. His spill/incident response management work predates OPA-90 and includes the 1989 M/T Exxon Valdez among other significant incidents. Mike also has significant preparedness/response experience in the public health sector, and spearheaded our response efforts on behalf of our client USDA to the 2015 avian influenza outbreak.mike