What does keep keep calm and carry on mean?

Keep calm and carry on. It’s a message printed on mugs and pinned to cubicles in workplaces around the world, but as businesses grapple with the impact of coronavirus it’s high time we explore what that phrase actually means and how it can help.

The now-famous flyers were printed during WWII to help raise the morale of the British public as threats of German air-raids loomed. The message was simple; keep a level head, act according to the circumstances and keep getting the job done. They still had a country to run and a war to win.

Now that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared Coronavirus a pandemic, this simple morale-boosting poster from 1940’s Briton is more relevant than ever. Businesses still need to run, and their staff need to remain level-headed, listen to experts and keep the ship on course. Keep calm and carry on—just like the British during the Blitz.

This means as EAs you need to carry on with your responsibilities—those being—reporting to your executive and facilitating their primary directives.

This means EAs still have to plan board meetings, manage & attend events, sort travel, book team building and organise professional development—all the while mitigating and managing risk. It’s not going to be easy, but this (at least for a while) is the new norm and businesses need to adapt to it.

There are a number of things EAs can do to help mitigate risk while ‘carrying on’. The WHO has a comprehensive breakdown of recommendations for lowering risk in the workplace, which includes simple but effective measures like wiping surfaces with disinfectant, keeping hand-sanitiser handy and promoting good coughing and sneezing hygiene.

But what about meetings and events? A number of large events have been cancelled due to the virus, but business needs to carry on and executives still need to meet stakeholders and ‘press the flesh’.

The WHO recommends reducing the size of events, it’s easier to keep track of 30 delegates health than 3000.

In a recent example, one EA decided to bring two or three managers to a board meeting and dial the rest in remotely—a great way to keep the risk low, while still getting key people in the same room.

The list linked above also dishes out a series of recommendations that EAs can put in place before, during and after their events to reduce risk and still run a successful event.

Also, a turn to the regions has a double-whammy benefit. Not only are these regions low-risk for infection due to their remote location, but they are also hungry for events in the wake of the bushfire disaster. Taking a bus to a regional venue for a team-building session or conference is a boost to morale and a safer option.

Business is like a plate-spinning act. The plate needs to stay in constant motion or it hits the floor and smashes. But that doesn’t mean recklessly speeding up and ignoring risk completely—it’s about a constant, informed momentum. Keep calm and carry on.