Due to Coronavirus, the working world has rapidly changed. In order to stop the spread of the virus, employees are now under lockdown and companies are having to enforce a work from home policy. This has caused a huge upheaval for many businesses.
Yet, companies should continue operating as normal. A savvy business will have thought ahead and developed a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) for exactly this type of disruptive situation. Yet, how can we adapt the BCP to include an emergency work from home policy?
What is a Business Continuity Plan?
The first questions to answer are what is a BCP and why do I need one?
Simply put, a Business Continuity Plan is a system that your business has in place to ensure that it can continue working, whatever the commercial weather. This includes dealing with natural disasters, economic recession or (as recent events show) a pandemic. It is important to be prepared as we cannot predict the future.
Why have an emergency response BCP?
Planning how your business will continue through a number of potential threats will ensure you’re better prepared, should the time come. Right now the world is facing an unprecedented pandemic. If you have a BCP, it should guide you through these times. You will be able to weather the storm with minimal business disruption.
Regular run-throughs of a BCP will allow you to spot any weaknesses within it. Most importantly, it is good for your workers to know of the plan in advance. If they are familiar with it, they will not be as confused when it comes into action unexpectedly. This will enable you to reach your recovery time objectives even more quickly.
What should a standard BCP include?
There are numerous remote work policy templates which you can adapt to your business needs. Below we have included a checklist of some of the most important criteria to consider when making a BCP plan. The standard model involves four stages, commonly referred to as PPRR. Each stage is developed and practiced in turn.
This stage involves identifying risks and thinking about how they can be managed. Could anything be done beforehand to stop or mitigate this risk?
This is a key stage in the process. Here you identify the key areas of your business that could be disrupted. Then you can analyse the potential effects a range of scenarios may have on them.
This stage looks at the management of risks at an individual activity level. Does each team member know how to manage their work in any given situation? It is worth forming a business continuity team, dedicated to dealing with these issues when they arise.
This is the final stage of any BCP plan. It should aim to demonstrate how the areas of business affected could quickly get back to normal levels of productivity. This is where recovery strategies come into play.
Covering these bases is crucial in business continuity disaster recovery. The central elements are important for effective business continuity management and form the base of a disaster recovery plan.
Including a Remote Working Policy
A BCP should include the eventuality of working offsite. Due to COVID-19, employers are aware that many workers must now work remotely. Therefore, if not already included, the plan must be adapted to cover the event of working away from the office. A remote working policy is therefore essential to managing remote workers. You might be wondering what this policy looks like?
Work from Home Policy Template
All effective work from home policies include the following:
Identify the key workers and their functions within the business. How can these functions be adapted to be completed from home? Do employees have computers and reliable internet access? If there are employees who simply cannot do their work offsite, is there a way of situating them in temporary accommodation? Make sure these are covered clearly in your policy.
Will you be able to make sure the IT team is available to deal with technical issues? Also. consider your digital security. Is the information your workers handle secure in their houses? If not, ensure that they have access to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and know exactly what is and isn’t safe to share. Similarly, if the staff do not have access to software, the plan could include how to offer alternatives.
Clarity is vital to ensuring that all your key workers are on board and informed about the new policy. Expectations should be clarified. For instance, what level of output do you expect from your workers? What deadlines or goals still remain as part of their job? What regular reporting is expected? These should be communicated beforehand. During the event, clear channels of communication are vital.
Monitoring of workers is key to making sure work runs smoothly. This does not mean setting up cameras in their homes. You should have systems in place to be able to check-in with them. Examples include a scheduled virtual meeting, email or even a quick call.
Workers should be aware of when their working day begins and ends. Also, they need to know exactly how long it should take them to respond to their colleagues’ communications. Clarifying these steps in your policy is vital to ensure the smooth continuity of business.
Feedback from employees is crucial. This could be their first time working from home and could be a lot to take in. Give them the means to feedback on what could be improved. Coronavirus has no end date and problems are likely to arise. Sharing feedback can allow workers to problem-solve faster.
Is your continuity plan ready?
If your business continuity plan has been successfully adapted to include an effective work from home policy, then you will be able to maintain critical business functions. This is a vital part of a business resilience strategy. Make sure that your employees are able to maintain a working connection and allow things to continue as normal as possible.
Contributed by Charlotte Stace; Edited by Tanya Lesiuk