Maintaining Organizational Productivity During a Crisis: Business Continuity is Key

Today's post is authored by Tim Banting, a principal analyst in Workspace Services within Omdia's Enterprise Services team. Tim's work is focused on unified communications and collaboration research.

In recent months, Coronavirus has accelerated new working practices and shone a light on areas that many businesses have either ignored or simply been unaware of. As the global pandemic forces most of the world to work from home, many organizations are re-writing disaster recovery strategies in favor of business continuity plans.

Think business continuity, not disaster recovery

Disaster recovery plans typically try to mitigate disruption to business following a disaster and are designed specifically to help organizations recover in the shortest time possible. Historically, disaster recovery has focused on the restoration of IT infrastructure and operations; however, when a crisis prevents staff from returning to the workplace due to pandemics, extreme weather events, public transportation closures and the like, businesses soon discover that continuity plans should encompass the processes, people, places, products and services of their organization.

Most modern businesses rely on a complex composite of permanent and temporary staff, contractors and contingency workers, partners, and suppliers. It is important to provide the tools needed to support both intra- and inter-company communication and collaboration, particularly when assessing business continuity. Business leaders should understand how this “digital supply chain” will be affected if key personnel across the business need to work remotely, from a tactical, strategic, and operational level.

Unfortunately, there remain plenty of IT departments that didn’t factor in remote calls and online meetings into their business continuity plan. The truth is, staff need intuitive collaboration tools that make connecting with their colleagues as easy as possible, particularly if everyone is geographically dispersed. These technologies need to be quickly configured and deployed by IT, easy to navigate for users, as well as have exceptional uptime and reliability.

Organizations may need to quickly add temporary staff or contingent workers to fill any gaps in the workforce and the technology must be able to deal with this. Those working remotely may need assistance from IT staff in setting up their applications and ongoing remote support and training.

Review management and team working approaches

A sudden acceleration in remote working may raise challenges; however, cross-functional teamwork is key to mitigating them. While much of the onus falls upon the shoulders of the CIO and IT staff, all business leaders need to be involved in the identifying the numerous elements of business operations to highlight any areas of exposure, the potential impact and the consequential risk. The impact of a sudden loss of organizational functions and interruption to business processes are vital factors in assessing how to maintain business continuity.

HR departments and facility management teams should also take an active role in business continuity planning. This includes ensuring measures are in place to ensure worker safety is top of mind, driving training and support activities, providing access to employee assistance programs, and adapting management practices accordingly. Traditional office-based teams may find remote working to be disruptive. In fact, according to GoTo’s recent research, 45% of workers claim household distractions are a major concern regarding remote work – and another 40% were concerned about poor team communication and camaraderie.

Without regular guidance, face-to-face management, and easy ways to communicate, it is important that revised procedures and practices are in place to maintain employee well-being and team productivity.

While ongoing relationships with clients is always important – it becomes critical during times of crisis. It’s essential for organizations to explain how their business can continue to support their customers and remain operational. Consequently, public relations and internal communications teams (typically a function of marketing), should ensure that a comprehensive, articulate crisis communication plan is defined. Such a plan should, at the very minimum, include: a list of key contacts; their roles and responsibilities, and the tasks assigned to them; plus ways to regularly track, communicate, and update both staff and stakeholders during the crisis.

Finally, business continuity should be viewed as a cross-departmental discipline and needs to assess the operational effectiveness of the organization through the thorough testing of plans before incidents highlight any weaknesses in strategy.

Didn't plan for this? GoTo's got your back.

A lot of IT departments didn't factor in a long-term need for remote calls and online meetings into their business continuity plan. Trust the experts at GoTo to empower your remote workforce with all the tools they need. Your employees can keep making and receiving calls, running webinars, and hosting secure video conferences and meetings.

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