A global health crisis is something many of us didn’t see coming, let alone include in our continuity planning. As organizations around the world activate business continuity plans (BCP), many are left ill-prepared when it comes to implementing remote working policies and ensuring employee productivity and collaboration.
We recently conducted a survey with more than 290 enterprise contacts across the APAC region. In this, our APAC 2020: Enterprise Risk Management Readiness Survey Report, we found that only 35% of businesses are genuinely confident with their BCP. A further 54% reported that their plans were in ‘somewhat’ good shape, and the remainder of organizations are conceded that they were under-prepared.
Let’s work on the assumption that COVID-19 will continue to impact the world as we know it for the next 12-18 months, how does your BCP stack up?
Remote working roadblocks
This novel coronavirus caught everyone by surprise. While some businesses planned for a localized crisis, many didn’t consider a worst-case scenario, where entire global operations would be impacted. If a crisis is country-specific, business can then reallocate resources to other locations. That’s not possible right now. Today, entire workforces are switching to remote operations, and leaving many obstacles in its wake.
When asked, what is the primary roadblock that prevents implementation of a remote working policy in their organization, over 50% of businesses cited the lack of collaboration tools or infrastructure. On top of that, 25% said the lack of expertise to facilitate remote working arrangements left them under challenging circumstances. Coupled with bandwidth limitations and technology being stretched, the nature of the pandemic means businesses are needing rapid and reliable deployment of necessary tools.
Lessons learned during Covid-19
As a company and brand, how we act under pressure, during times of crisis, is going to have consequences on our reputation. Stick to your principles and do what is right by looking after the heart and soul of your company first – its people. While tone and behaviour may not be specifically mentioned in your BCP, when humanity is facing unprecedented times, we rely on our leaders to implement crisis strategies with a level of consideration and compassion.
Direct communication from senior leaders can help to keep the team on track. Change is hard, especially when there is much misinformation and uncertainty. Right now, employees are looking to their managers to help them understand what they need to do and how to do it. Shut down any fake news, only communicate facts and useful guidance to your people.
While there’s much speculation on what the future holds, one thing we know for sure is our working lives won’t go back to the way they once were. As we help our clients transform their organizations and find a better way to operate their day-to-day function, we’re also already looking ahead and delivering business continuity planning for the future.
Business continuity plans created from here on in must consider the worst-case scenarios. Inevitably as the pandemic continues, further disruption and crisis events are likely. You can’t plan appropriately based on the cause of the disaster and probable scenarios. So, plan based on the probable impacts. Look at your business and identify the high-risk areas where you can gain control; this is where you should place your contingency planning efforts.
Analyze, understand and prioritize what your business needs to protect and remain operational. Not everything is critical, and if you take this approach, you’ll end up spreading your resources too thin. Remember to be flexible and expect some surprises to happen along the way. If you’re ready to react, you can still implement your business continuity strategy with a few adjustments.
Getting the right tools for business continuity
When it comes to putting the right BCP tools in place, it’s not a one size fits all approach. You need to look at the needs and demands, as well as the critical business functions to determine the right solution set for your business. A scalable solution that sits within your existing framework is better, because you want your team to be using the same tools remotely, ideally ones they are familiar with from using every day in the office.
Above all, your remote working and collaboration tools must be easy to use and deploy, secure and able to handle the bandwidth of your business. Unified communications and collaboration tools such as those offered by Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex provide such tools, bringing together ways to call, and meet online, synchronize calendars, as well as share and collaborate on files, message, work in project groups, and know the best time to contact colleagues thanks to presence indicators.
In addition, cloud-based telephony solutions like Cloud Voice mean that your workforce can make and take calls using any connected device, from wherever they are. This goes way beyond offering makeshift remote-working, it offers full contact center functionality, and if you do need to activate your business continuity plans your entire workforce to be able to handle calls, and customer queries as if they were working from one office. It also modernizes the organization, removing the ongoing burden of maintaining your telephony hardware, and simplifies and reduces bills – typically by around 40-60% – thanks to vastly reduced call costs.
Business continuity and the future
It seems clear now that things will not go back exactly to how they were. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Organizations that previously have shunned cloud-based communications services are now starting to see the benefits in terms of flexibility, performance, and user experience. Equally, it seems likely that there will be an increased demand from employees for more flexible working solutions that can enable them to maintain the benefits they have enjoyed by enforced remote working,
If there is one consolation from this health crisis for businesses, it is perhaps the fact that the challenge also provides a clear opportunity to transform how your business operates, how you can enable your people to be more productive, and enjoy a better work/life blend – but above all, ensure that your business continuity planning allows business as usual, even in unusual times.
To discuss how we can enable your teams to communicate and collaborate effectively, please do get in touch.