The global business community, from stock markets to small shops, is bracing for the effects of the coronavirus.

One line of defense will be to more fully embrace remote work, and another will be stronger business continuity planning.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to test working from home at scale,” said Alvin Foo, managing director of Reprise Digital, a Shanghai ad agency with 400 people that’s part of Interpublic Group, in an interview with Time. “Obviously, not easy for a creative ad agency that brainstorms a lot in person.” It’s going to mean a lot of video chats and phone calls, he said.

But that doesn’t mean businesses are out of the woods. Far from it, the article pointed out. Even for those who can do business by Internet and phone, the virus means there may not be much business to do.

Bankers say IPOs and deals are on hold. Transaction value in the first 30 days of 2020 was half what it was the year before, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

And that leads to a larger issue of business continuity planning. Enterprise Singapore, a government agency has issued a guide to planning in light of the coronavirus.

Among the detailed suggestions:

  • Identify critical business functions (prioritized activities) and essential employees.
    • Set up alternate teams of employees (e.g. Team A & Team B) who can be deployed at different work schedules (e.g. Team A working in the office at alternate weeks, while Team B telecommutes). Team A and Team B should be physically segregated to avoid the risk of infection between teams
    • Cross-train workers and establish covering arrangements to minimize disruptions
  • A Flu Manager should be appointed to ensure that employees are familiar with the business continuity plans and comply with them during this period.
  • Develop a plan for the continuity of leadership in the event of absence of key decision makers and executives
  • Ensure adequate supply of appropriate Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and medical equipment (e.g. thermometers, disposable gloves, surgical masks, N-95 masks and disinfectants) and undertake training to familiarize employees on their usage