Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to react as an Organisation

COVID-19 is causing significant social and economic impact on organisations. This page provides information to help you prepare your organisation and respond to the coronavirus-crisis.

The COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization, causing huge impact on people's lives, families and organisations.

As the national response continues to develop, we know that organisations are facing several risks to which they need to respond rapidly. We are working closely with firms and other organisations in Switzerland and internationally to help them prepare and respond to the different scenarios emerging from the coronavirus-crisis.

Here you will find a checklist with key considerations, information on loans and financial risk management, plus more information that can help your organisation deal with this crisis.

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Get an overview of COVID-19 related issues and answers to questions we’ve been frequently asked.

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Key concerns that are emerging include:


Crisis management

From our experience, a strongly developed crisis response capability is required to ensure the efficient management of incidents in order to minimise associated negative impacts, meet government priorities around maintenance and confidence, and to ensure the continued delivery of critical national infrastructure. Many organisations have these plans in place for the workplace and supply chain but COVID-19 has already unveiled flaws in some. Given the unknown variables surrounding the outbreak, it is important to review crisis and business continuity plans, develop different scenarios and put them to the test. 

Contingency planning

With COVID-19 spreading across the globe, businesses face increased levels of uncertainty. Mitigation strategies such as social distancing can affect a business’s value chain on different levels.
In order to ensure the continuity of a business, a clear view on risks, weaknesses and causal relationships needs to be understood. So, we recommend establishing contingency plans to evaluate the impact of different scenarios on liquidity, and other financial and operational metrics
To develop a contingency plan suitable for your business and situation, our experts recommend the following:

  • update your financial position and resource planning analysis to assume staff sickness
  • assess situation of key suppliers and customers
  • assess supply chain stability and alternatives
  • consider the position of other key stakeholders (e.g. shareholders, banks, regulatory authorities etc.)
  • assess and prepare short-time work schemes
  • ensure system continuity, in particular Treasury and ERP-Systems
  • develop “what-if”-scenarios and action plans
  • assess insolvency law-related matters

Reto Brunner

Partner, Advisory, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 14 19

Email

Benjamin Rutz

Director Business Restructuring Services, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 2160

Email


Finance and liquidity

Next to health and safety issues, liquidity is of great importance to any company. It’s at the core of any company-system and what keeps the company running. Make sure you consider the following three crucial steps, to preserve liquidity and safeguard business continuity:

1. Immediately discern your current financial position
2. Take action to protect this position and consider all means of help and funding
3. Manage internal and external stakeholders accordingly

Treasury and financial risk management

For certain companies funding is becoming very tight, and there is a shortage of cash. Foreign exchange rates and commodity prices are very volatile, and credit risk is increasing, both for clients and possibly banks.

  • Cash flow forecasting: Rapid deployment of a cash flow forecasting process (using data analytics)
  • Board reporting: Implementation of continuous, either daily or weekly, reporting to the board on the status of cash, funding and exposures
  • Financial risk management: Revisit the FX and commodity hedging strategy (including financial reporting / hedge accounting) and your credit risk measurement and strategy

Michiel Mannaerts

Partner Corporate Treasury Solutions, Geneva, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 92 10

Email

Sebastian di Paola

Partner and Leader Corporate Treasury Solutions, Geneva, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 96 03

Email

Financial situation assessment, business continuity

With COVID-19 spreading across the globe, businesses face increased levels of uncertainty. Mitigation strategies such as social distancing can affect a business’s value chain on many levels.
In order to avoid liquidity-shortages and covenant-breaches, the implications of COVID-19 on your business’s financials need to be understood. So we recommend assessing the short- and medium-term financial implications of COVID-19.
To assess your financial situation and ensure business continuity, our experts recommend the following:

  • create a 13-week short-term cash-flow forecast
  • update business plans, budgets and forecasts
  • perform sensitivity analysis and model different scenarios (best-, base-, and worst-case)
  • take immediate measures to protect liquidity by:

1. Unlocking trapped cash
2. Improving working capital
3. Drawing credit-lines
4. Applying for government loans
5. Identifying possibilities of coverage and compensation (insurance)

  • consider the position of key stakeholders and establish communications early

Reto Brunner

Partner, Advisory, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 14 19

Email

Benjamin Rutz

Director Business Restructuring Services, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 2160

Email


Workforce

Managing disruption to people and productivity from the Coronavirus.

The impact of COVID-19, as well current and preventative measures taken against it are a major workforce concern of businesses around the world today. Many organisations are facing different challenges, including:

  • the wellbeing and welfare of the workforce, and as well ensuring productivity and execution;
  • maintaining employment in the face of declining demand or redeploying the workforce as the operating models adapt to changing consumer preferences and demand;
  • attuning HR policies for a fluid and developing situation e.g. quarantine periods, return to work after illness, sick pay, employment law, repatriation to name a few

For further information, please find more details in the sections below.

Legal advice on employment

COVID-19 significantly affects the established employment processes and routines. It’s a major challenge to quickly adapt to this extraordinary situation to the best benefit of the company and its workforce, all in compliance with the Swiss employment law framework.

How do I keep my workforce and still be able to reduce salary costs despite less workload?
Short-time work compensation: We can guide you through the entire procedure of submitting a request for short-time work, and all related legal matters.
We can support you in all employment-related issues, including:

  • Working time management: overtime, compensation, holidays etc.
  • Working location: Home-office, working remotely etc.
  • Special advice in relation to the Swiss Federal Council’s COVID-19 ordinances, particularly for employees at high risk or changed modalities of providing the work (social distancing).

Ivana Vidakovic

Co-Head of Employment Law, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 4764

Email

Stephen Ammann

Co-Head of Employment Law, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 2904

Email

Critical roles contingency planning

Many organisations do not have contingency plans in place if key roles become vacant. Potential replacement(s) have not been identified or may not have the skills, experience or training that is required for the role.
Many organisations don’t have contingency plans in place in case key roles become vacant. Potential replacement(s) have not been identified or may lack the required skills, experience or training for the role.

  • Do you know what are the critical roles in your organisation and who currently occupies them?
  • What are the key skills and competencies required for such roles?
  • Have you identified potential replacements for your critical roles?
  • Do the potential replacements have all the necessary skills and experience?
  • What immediate training and coaching will you provide to these potential replacements?

Lisa Daniells

Director, People & Organisation, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 25 792 26 85

Email

Jose Marques

Partner, People and Organisation, Geneva, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 96 34

Email

Leading virtual teams and managing remote working

Some organisations do not have the policies, processes and tools to drive and support a productive, motivated and healthy remote workforce. Working from home and leading virtual teams is not just about having the right technology in place, it requires a certain mindset, behaviours and training.

  • Is my policy for remote working fit for purpose and legally compliant?
  • How do I make sure my leaders are able to lead their teams in the new remote-working setting?
  • Is my workforce equipped with the right tools and training to work productively from home?
  • How can I support my workforce remain in good mental and physical health while working from home?

Lisa Daniells

Director, People & Organisation, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 25 792 26 85

Email

Jose Marques

Partner, People and Organisation, Geneva, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 96 34

Email

Workforce cost management

Companies need to proactively review their workforce costs (e.g. overtime, annual leave, short time, salary reduction).
In the mid-term, they may need to carry out more significant workforce cost reductions: downsizing, targeted workforce reduction or generic workforce cost reduction.

  • How can I reduce my workforce costs without losing key talent and affecting productivity?
  • Which measures would be most effective and aligned to the culture of my company?
  • How do I manage the communication with my workforce as I implement potentially unfavourable measures?
  • What are the more transformational changes to my workforce that I should consider?
  • How can I balance the short-term with the longer-term needs of the business?

Lisa Daniells

Director, People & Organisation, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 25 792 26 85

Email

Jose Marques

Partner, People and Organisation, Geneva, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 96 34

Email

Workforce communication

Communication is crucial during the COVID-19 crisis. It is absolutely vital that you communicate with your employees promptly and in an appropriate manner. With Beekeeper’s app, you are always in contact with all your employees, even those on the front line and without a fixed workplace.
Thanks to the Beekeepers app, you are able to manage the crisis period better and more securely thanks to:

  • a simple and easy-to-use two-way communication channel with employees and staff
  • efficient communication of current safety regulations, work instructions and new duty rosters in compliance with data protection regulations
  • live feeds and campaigns relating to hygiene measures and standard guidelines
  • information and instructions aimed at specific target groups
  • quick integration of additional staff
  • flexible digital coordination of requirements and resources
  • improved employee protection against contagion
  • interactive chat rooms for questions and concerns about the coronavirus.

Philip Sommer

Partner, Leiter Beratung Gesundheitswesen, Bern, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 75 28

Email

David Roman

Director, Digital Health Leader, Zurich, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 77 90

Email

Global Mobility

For employees involved in cross-border activities – whether business travel, secondment, cross-border commuters, local transfers, or regular activities in multiple states – it is necessary to clarify whether the measures taken by their employers and regulatory authorities in response to COVID-19 may put the company as well as its employees unintentionally at risk in terms of their social security, immigration, and/or tax positions.

  • Mitigating cross-border travel risks and immigration requirements for employees travelling/commuting to and from Switzerland
  • Identifying where employees are or have been, in order to manage unforeseen compliance risks and provide satisfactory duty-of-care
  • Making sure that employees that are currently not able to travel back to their usual work locations, or are working from home abroad, do not possibly trigger unexpected additional social security and individual income tax costs as well as foreign employer and other compliance obligations
  • Clarifying actions/duties if employees’ secondments are interrupted, delayed or cancelled

Hans Geene

Partner, People and Organisation, Zurich and Geneva, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 91 24

Email

June Bood

Director, People and Organization, PwC Switzerland

+41 58 792 1749

Email


Operations and Supply Chain

Where clients are reliant on supply chains in affected areas, rapidly depleting stock levels are becoming a significant risk and clients are working through strategies for alternative sourcing. In certain cases, clients are showing signs of distress and stakeholders (e.g. lenders) are concerned about the future viability of the business. We are discussing different potential scenarios and what these mean for their operations, for example, as cases of viral transmission emerge in different territories.

Supply chain continuity

“Navigating Your Business Through Turbulent Times” - a practical guide to continue supply chain and operations in the face of the COVID-19 crisis

Consumer buying behaviour, driven by media news and governmental conditions, is very hard to predict. Many clients face significant changes in market demand.
Supply interruptions due to factories with workforce- and/or supply-shortages, supplier bankruptcies, delayed processing at borders drive unreliable supply chains. Additionally, clients face workforce capacity challenges and the need to quickly adopt new ways of working.
The externally-driven challenges require immediate action in adjusting the demand/supply agreements. Business processes, as well as master data, set in place to control a “business-as-usual” environment, should reflect the needs of the current, radically different environment.

Christoph Wellinger

Senior Executive Advisory Director, PwC Switzerland

Email


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Contact us

Julie Fitzgerald Wieland

Partner and Growth & Markets Leader, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 26 80

Jan-Hendrik Völker-Albert

Head of Marketing & Communications, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 1885

Reto Brunner

Partner, Advisory, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 14 19

Norbert Kühnis

Leiter Familienunternehmen & KMU, Mitglied der Geschäftsleitung, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 63 63