COVID-19: Responding to potential impacts on Irish business

As the COVID-19 situation evolves, there will be significant human, social and economic implications for Ireland and Irish business. With domestic and international responses in flux, how can you prepare your organisation to respond with confidence?

Addressing the impacts of the coronavirus on your business

The COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, causing huge impact on people's lives, families and communities.

We know that organisations in Ireland are facing several potentially significant challenges that they need to respond to rapidly.

We are working closely with organisations both here and globally to help them prepare and respond to all of their concerns related to the pandemic and its knock-on effects.

Immediate concerns emerging around COVID-19 for businesses

As the scale and nature of the disruption that the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, what are the key concerns for Irish business at this time, and how should they prepare to deal with the uncertainty that faces them?

Crisis planning

Robust crisis response capability is necessary to ensure you can efficiently manage unforeseen disruption. Minimising the associated negative impacts of major incidents is essential to maintain confidence and continuity. The Brexit preparation that Irish businesses have completed in recent years around the workplace and supply chain management is coming into play now. We are in unprecedented times and COVID-19 will test and flex these plans. It is important to review your crisis and business continuity plans, develop a range of scenarios and test them robustly.

A business woman leads an agile meeting with coworkers while writing on a whiteboard and holding a tablet.

Effective communication

Reliable information underpins both crisis planning and response and allows organisations and individuals to make informed decisions. In an environment where 'fake news' and misinformation is prevalent, Irish businesses need to be mindful of the way they are communicating. It is important to proactively connect with all stakeholder groups with accurate and timely information. Irish businesses have a corporate responsibility to manage public perception of the outbreak, minimise misinformation and prevent panic. In this way, they can reduce the detrimental impact on the economy and individuals.

A business woman leads a meeting with three other people in the background.

Workforce

The welfare of employees is the key priority for Irish businesses. However, there are naturally other employee challenges to address. Among other things, consideration needs to be given to pausing production lines due to supply chain disruption, lower productivity due to social distancing requirements, the tax positions of people who are moving between countries on an emergency basis and the potential impact of asking employees to temporarily stop work.

A line of laboratory technicians wearing white scrubs and face masks working in unison.

Supply chain

Where organisations are dependent on supply chains for their products and materials, they need to map and confirm their models are robust and sustainable. Where they identify areas of stress—for example items coming from a territory in an affected area—they need to identify alternative sourcing strategies.

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Finance and liquidity

Organisations are experiencing significant operational, financial and liquidity challenges. A key concern for clients is managing cash pressures to ride out the crisis. It is critical that businesses have a solid understanding of their cash position, their access to pools of liquidity and ensure they are engaging actively with stakeholders.

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A photograph of glass panels of a building reflecting a warped blue sky.

Scenario planning for evolving situations

Determining potential risks is essential in developing sensible scenario plans. Ongoing access to good information means you can keep your worst-case scenario under review. Careful leadership and planning, as well as respect for the unpredictability of events, will help to see Irish businesses through the coming months. How should you approach these through the COVID-19 crisis?

1

Determine your trusted sources of information

Make sure business leaders have access to authoritative information about COVID-19. In Ireland start with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Government, as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for travel advice. You might also consider the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

They might also include trusted entities in your supply chain or network with whom you can speak regularly, as well as selected news services or analytics outlets. Peer-to-peer groups may also be invaluable sources of information on the impact on other organisations, as well as providing information on how others are planning.

2

Appoint a cross-functional leadership team

This group needs to consider the potential impact on your people, finances, supply chain, dependency network, workplace, technology capability and your ability to maintain critical assets and commercial strategies. It is their job is to understand the risks, minimise them where possible, and create risk-led, proportionate plans to respond if necessary. It's also worth considering related vulnerabilities that could increase during a period when the organisation is under duress. For example, could a physical security issue or cyberattack be more likely during a period where the organisation is more vulnerable?

3

Establish your continuity plan

While business continuity plans are commonplace in Irish businesses they are often centred on short-lived impacts, not the medium to long-term effects that COVID-19 could potentially have. Therefore, businesses need to rework their continuity plans to deal with the prolonged impacts and disruptions that a scenario like the coronavirus could bring about.


What PwC is doing internationally

Our experts across our global network are experienced in working with companies, governments, regulators, NGOs and organisations around the world, helping them to prepare for and respond to the disruption that unprecedented and unforeseen events can have. These have included most pandemics such as Ebola, MERS, SARS, H1N1 (swine flu) and H5N1 (bird flu). Our global coronavirus crisis centre is already currently working with a range of organisations across all sectors and industries on crisis planning, effective communication, workforce and supply chain issues as the COVID-19 situation develops.

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How we can help you

Business continuity

Our resilience professionals have global experience helping clients respond to crises and balancing business continuity. Their experience includes design and implementation of robust risk mitigation and contingency frameworks, identifying remediation activities and building capacity controls related matters.

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Crisis management

Our specialists in crisis, risk management and intelligence have experience in high risk industries, and working with international organisations and governments. Our intelligence professionals have also undertaken thousands of multilingual intelligence collection engagements around the world.

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Supply chain

Our professionals have had global experience helping companies, governments and multilaterals maximise coverage while managing risk and cost within supply chains.

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Forensics

Our professionals provide governance and anti-corruption assistance to support global response in times of severe and complex crisis. Our financial management expertise allows us to serve in fiduciary agent roles as well as fund administrators. Our tax and immigration specialists are familiar with applicable laws, and maintain the right relationships to assist you with tax, immigration and exchange controls related matters.

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Health

Our global health network of more than 13,000 professionals includes doctors, nurses, pharmacists, technicians, former government officials and epidemiologists. We have strong capabilities across all sub-sectors within the health industry, including the Government and public sector, payors, providers, pharma, life sciences and medtech companies.

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Workforce planning and mobility

Crisis situations present a myriad of immigration, tax, mobility and people issues. For example, how do firms now manage the movements of their people regionally and globally with new travel restrictions? What are the immigration, employment tax, payroll and social security implications if people are working outside their regular place of work? Our PwC Global Mobility experts deliver whole-firm solutions in crisis management when enterprises consider their people's response.

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Contact us

Garrett Cronin

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 8807

Andy Banks

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6805

Donal Boyle

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 8304

Mark McEnroe

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 5265

Declan McDonald

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6092

Doone O'Doherty

Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 6593

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