As companies up and down St Georges Terrace start implementing their return to work strategies post the COVID-19 outbreak, the question no one wants to hear – what happens if someone becomes infected?

“Panic is a natural reaction,” says Natalie Fox, Managing Director of Perth based national commercial consultancy RiskAdvisor.


Perth commercial risk expert Natalie Fox, who recently was part of the team that managed the latest infection at a CBD quarantine hotel, offers insights on how companies can effectively manage if the situation does occur.

“Panic is a natural reaction,” says Natalie Fox, Managing Director of Perth based national commercial consultancy RiskAdvisor.

“All the planning and preparation that has been established so thoroughly during the past month, immediately gets forgotten in the first few moments when the realisation is we have a live case.

“And that’s okay because, as we all know, the past few months have been completely uncharted and new territory for us all.”

In Western Australia, companies across all sectors have gained an advantage on their East Coast counterparts given the State has so far recorded a lower infection rate from the virus.

This has seen a great percentage of the workforce gradually start to reintegrate into the office environment.

Natalie believes that keeping business risk plans simple with a strong focus on clear and ongoing communication are the most important elements.

“We saw that when the worst case does occur, instantly the recourse is to say, what do we do?”

The conversations we’re regularly having with executives and HR managers is how their company can regain some form of control over the situation.

“Each time we’ve had the same answer – develop an agile and relevant business continuation plan.”

Dan O’Regan, Managing Director of insurance brokerage firm RiskCorp Insurance Brokers, agrees that contingency planning is paramount and gives companies more influence to proactively assess where their risks are.

“Risk comes in many forms,” said Dan.

“Companies that embrace their commercial exposure actually have more control over their growth.” 

“In every operation, no matter what size or industry sector you’re from, there are insurable and non-insurable risks. From cyber to operation and financial, everyone has risks and different levels of exposure.

“In the past, the focus has been very much on health, safety and environment but the new normal now goes so far beyond that. 

“What companies are learning is that by proactively identifying where their commercial vulnerabilities are, gives them greater power to control a situation.”

Both Natalie and Dan agree, the only way to effectively achieve that is to invest time to identify and prioritise potential risks.

“There are so many developments happening at both a legislative and policy level, so businesses are facing continual change when it comes to factors that can have an impact,” Dan said.

“The best approach is to group your risks into categories – from digital and cyber to operational, financial, and environment and safety – creating a foundation to understand what the potential impacts will be.”

Natalie, who continues to advise companies both in high-risk environments and those charting their return to work strategies, has the final word.

“Companies need to make this situation an opportunity, use the lessons from COVID-19 to map and create a robust business continuity plan – that way you’re in a stronger position if a similar scenario happens again in the future,” she said.