Common challenges

Lessons from Past Pandemics, Part 1: Preparing for a False Start

April 17, 2020

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a month since the WHO declared a pandemic, and almost as long since provinces began declaring states of emergency. While we settle into what the prime minister is calling our “new normal,” it’s important to look at what we’ve done so far and what we can still do to prepare.

But with so much uncertainty about the coming weeks and months, how can we know what to do? We start by looking to the past to prepare for the future.

“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”
—George Bernard Shaw

We’ve heard sayings like this time and again about the importance of learning from history. It’s true, though, that in times of peace and security, we easily forget what it feels like to be in a crisis. This forgetfulness hurts us when crises inevitably arise again: the successes and failures of the past help us make better choices about our uncertain future.

Learning from the past is easier with a guide, so we’ve put together a few video lessons about past global outbreaks and what they teach us for today.

In our first video of this series, we look at two American cities and the measures they took against the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918 to 1920 to illustrate the idea of a ‘false start’. We follow that with recommendations for HR professionals and business leaders that address possible consequences of a false start.



This video touches on maintaining culture during a crisis. One way we’ve maintained our culture here at HRdownloads is using virtual meetings to play company-wide games every Friday morning. It’s a highly visible and overt way we help keep a sense of belonging strong during these difficult times, but don’t forget that little gestures matter, too. We’ve heard of companies organizing virtual after-hours events to hang out as they normally would after a busy week.

Managing a remote team for the first time can be challenging, but checking in with your team and connecting them together helps your business continue as normally as possible. Of course, that isn’t the only worry you might have during this state of emergency. Want to know how the pandemic has affected your business financially?

Our Business Continuity Calculator can help you get a better picture of how your organization is holding up during this crisis.

Stay tuned and subscribe to our blog for more of these videos and other valuable resources. We’ll keep you informed as updates occur.


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