February 27, 2020

COVID-19 Is your Pandemic Plan ready? - WST

You already have a rock-solid pandemic plan, right? Of course you do. But given the current corona-virus (COVID-19) news, it might be worth locating the plan, dusting it off, and reviewing it to ensure it is as comprehensive as you remember it to be. While there are many other good sources of information on the illness (such as CDC's info for businesses: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/workplaces-businesses/index.html), there are considerations that are financial institution specific. You might want to consider the following when reviewing your pandemic plan:

  • Be sure to look beyond your institution's walls – specifically vendors. If a pandemic occurs, will your normal cash deliveries occur, and do you have an alternate source? FedEx/UPS or other deliveries may also be disrupted.
  • Expect more ATM traffic. That might be a reasonable option in a pandemic situation, especially if your ATMs accept deposits. Direct customers there and online when possible (consider developing communications statements in advance).
  • If your cleaning service were unable to continue services, have a plan for how office trash collection and cleaning can be done by your own staff. Do you have cleaning supplies if you must do so?
  • Can you close lobbies and operate through drive-ups only? Proactively evaluate which branches you might temporarily close if overall staffing is too low, and how to redistribute staff to locations kept open.
  • Consider working shifts in areas where you may want to distance employees from each other (e.g., have some work 6-noon and others noon-6 to separate staff). If schools were to close, it may place additional stress on staffing.
  • In the event of a pandemic, you might need to know who on staff is pregnant, has existing medical issues, or anything else that might put them at increased risk by working. But you still must keep medical issues private (HIPAA...).
  • Consider HR/payroll issues. Expect there will be personnel that have used up all their PTO, and if they show minor symptoms may come to work when they would otherwise stay home. Also, if some staff are deemed non-critical and asked to not come to work, expect the question"Will I be paid to stay home?"
  • Do you have guards at any locations? You may need to re-evaluate the need for them (more or less needed) in an extreme situation. The need may change if you were to decide to close any lobbies.
  • If you have a significant up-tick in VPN access, do you have sufficient Internet bandwidth, and VPN licenses, to support the increased traffic?
  • If employees are allowed to work from home, consider whether that might result in customer data on personal computers. Would that be permitted or allowable?

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