With headlines repeating the warnings about the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and its potential effects, companies need guidance on how best to address the situation with regards to their employees — whether expatriates or local employees in an affected location or business travelers who visit such places.
Mercer conducted a global spot survey to capture and share business responses taken as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Data were collected between February 6 and February 18; over 300 companies from 37 countries provided their perspective.
Specifically, what are companies doing?
Despite the media reports and concern, companies, in general, are not panicking. Although they are taking a wait and see attitude.
- Monitoring the situation to determine the global need to work remotely (33%).
- Closing offices and plants in China (58%), some with a specific date (42%) most notably until February 10, 2020. February 17, 19, 28, and March 2, 4 also noted.
- Curtailing or postponing nonessential travel to countries where there are confirmed cases of COVID-19 (72%). Further, some of banning all travel to China (38%) and a few (18%) have recalled travelers from China with little difficulty (91%).
- Arranging for greater flexibility to work from home (58%).
- Requesting self-quarantine of 14 days for staff that recently traveled to mainland China (58%). Others (43%) have instituted a mandatory self-quarantine. Half of companies requiring a screening — medical exam (37%) or questionnaire completion (10%).
- Providing hand sanitizer (68%) and masks (48%) in the workplace.
- Monitoring the situation relating to the evacuation of expatriates (48%).
- Are not ending expatriate assignments (96%).
- Are not making changes to setting long-term compensation goals (77%), or to in-progress long-term incentive compensation awards (84%).
For detailed survey findings, download the report below. The report sections include the status of COVID-19 planning, expatriate-specific and business traveler concerns and issues, as well as details on post-travel quarantine or self-imposed isolation procedures.