COVID-19 FAQ for Businesses with Operations in LATAM

We’ve been having conversations with our clients on how to respond to COVID-19. As of today, March 17, 2020, COVID-19 has yet to have the same impact in LATAM as it has had in Europe or the United States, but the pandemic is expected to permeate in the region. Companies have started to take precautionary measures to protect their people and their business, while also planning for more complicated scenarios driven by COVID-19.

This document provides a summary of our responses to COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (“FAQ”) for international businesses with operations in Mexico ad LATAM.

1. We’re in a “wait and see” mode, what should we expect for our operations in LATAM?We have seen COVID-19 play out in Asia, Europe and the United States. Every country has a unique demographic and health infrastructure, but we now have enough data to understand how quickly the virus expands within a city, state and country. We have not learned of a solid reason why the impact in LATAM should be weaker than in other countries. Businesses should plan for different scenarios ranging in impact and complexity.

2. Will we have to temporarily shut down operations? There are many factors that would have to be considered to make such a decision (e.g. nature of business, industry, location, human interaction requirements). Should you know which factors could drive you into making that decision? Yes. Should your business monitor those factors closely? Sure. Should you have an action plan in case that is the decision? Definitely.  3. Our LATAM coworkers are not used to working remotely. In person, phone and email is the norm. What tools are available to us? If you have no other options, phone and email will continue to work OK. In our opinion, using other tools may work best and now may be a good opportunity to try them. We use Google Hangouts internally and Zoom with clients. Skype is also a fantastic tool to communicate. The vast majority of LATAM people use Whatsapp socially and professionally.  4. What functions / people should we allow to work from home? Although it varies by industry, the following functions can usually work from a remote location: finance, accounting, strategic planning & analysis, human resources, marketing and IT .  There are companies that could allow everyone to work from home. Other companies should make an effort to help employees work remotely and provide them with the appropriate resources (e.g. laptop and tools) . A good rule of thumb to follow is: “ If the work can be done remotely, it should be done remotely.” There is no reason to put people in harm's way.  5. It will be difficult to contact our employees. We usually see them as they walk into the building. What should we do to effectively communicate with them? Depending on the severity or urgency of the message, companies should contact their employees via different mediums. Apart from the official forms of communication of your business, using communication apps (e.g. Whatsapp) or social media (e.g. Twitter) to make announcements should not be ruled out under some scenarios. 6. How often should we communicate with employees? Early and often. Be transparent about what may happen under specific scenarios and reinforce official messages from authorities. It has to be a two way street. They should feel comfortable about opening up and asking questions. If they do not feel well, or feel unsafe, they should not be working. People come first. 7. What should we tell our clients? What about our suppliers? Care for your clients and your suppliers. Talk to them early, be transparent and explain what your actions will be under specific scenarios. Collaborate to reduce the impact on you and them. COVID-19 impacts everyone. 8. Where do we find official government information on COVID-19 for LATAM countries? Here are the Twitter handles for the Ministries of Health in Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Costa Rica and Panama. Use Twitter as a starting point for official information and then dive into other sources based on what you would like to learn. Please let us know if you need anything in particular. 

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