We don’t like to think about the negative side of life, but if we don’t prepare we can easily find ourselves stuck without anywhere to go. Business disruptions, natural disasters and even medical emergencies will affect your business. It doesn’t matter how small or large you are, the revenue of your company and even your job could be at risk is something untoward should happen, it’s in all of our interests to make sure your business is prepared.
In most cases, an emergency won’t stop employees from entering your workplace in the long-term, but what if something happens? Can your company handle all your employees working from home for the next four weeks?
What’s your plan? In our hyper-connected world, most businesses will opt for a ‘Work-from-home’ Contingency plan. With almost everyone having access to a computer and internet connection, working from home seems like the best option. Many of your employees may already work from home. However, during an emergency, is a working from home the best strategy?
Let’s get this straight, working from home is not a business continuity plan
A contingency plan is a course of action designed to help an organisation respond to an emergency situation that may or may not happen. Contingency planning is a component of risk management, disaster recovery and business continuity. Working from home is a logical option in your contingency plan, but there are many reasons why it’s not a robust component to your businesses continuity.
Working from home during an emergency poses many stresses, loads and challenges not seen in a casual situation. Below is a few examples of why you should reconsider your plan:
- Network Demands: Let’s say your entire city has to work from home, the sheer number of people trying to access their local broadband networks and even your corporate network, will be many times larger than usual. The average house with broadband in Australia shares their connection with 20-400 households. How will you cope?
- Business as usual (BAU) activities: During an emergency, employees will have more than their general BAU responsibilities. They will most likely perform special, high-priority activities related to the crisis, such as contacting customers and suppliers to keep them in the loop.
- Preparedness: Many employees rarely work from home and may not be familiar with the challenges that arise from being outside of the corporate network. Making the usual issues that come with using work applications and collaborative tools a significant problem.
- IT knowledge: Many people rely on their on-site IT support team to solve remedial issues, and without the ability to have someone at their desk when they need them; your support desk won’t keep up with demand.
- Access to business applications: During an emergency, applications such as file storage, intranet, documents and other custom applications, may not be accessible outside of your organisation.
- Preparation: Many people can be taken by surprise and may not have their work laptops or other office equipment.
Let’s say you implement a work-from-home contingency plan; what can de-rail it?
Even a well thought out plan can be ineffective and counterproductive without proper considerations – you need to plan for it not working out. Below are some examples of how your work-from-home plan can fail, leaving your business stuck up a creek.
It’s easy to assume that employees will have access to their devices at home. By giving staff access to remote access solutions does not mean they will have access during an emergency. They may have a laptop, mobile phone and broadband, but you can’t be sure they’ll have access to them during an emergency.
Even if they have all the tools required, you can’t be sure that their networks are good enough to get the job done.
You’ll also need to consider security policies to enable your employees to access your corporate networks. If an employee connects via an unsecured network, your data will be at risk.
Most laptops won’t last a full work-day and even if they have electricity, are charging cables readily available at home? Has your business supplied charging cords to all employees?
Limited access to your corporate network
In the perfect world, employees are all at home with their devices; have power and secure internet, but do they have access to your corporate network?
Some employees may be able to complete some work directly from their personal computer; but most will need access to the corporate network to get their jobs done.
A few network considerations:
- Does your business require access via VPN, Citrix or Windows Virtual Desktop?
- Are your people set up for remote access?
- Does your organisation have enough licenses to allow everyone to login?
- Does everyone know how to log in?
- Is your Support Desk team ready to assist anyone who has issues?
- Is everyone trained on how to handle sensitive or protected data while offsite?
- Will your networks handle the large volume of traffic?
- What if an employee forgets their corporate laptop?
- Do you have a secure method to work remotely?
Moving forward: how to prepare your business for a robust work-from-home contingency plan while protecting your business and your job
Giving employees the ability to work remotely from home is a good idea, but a casual Work-from-home plan is not a substitute for a robust Business Continuity solution. As you can see from above, there are many ways working from home during an emergency can fail.
That is why we strongly believe that taking the necessary measures to strengthen your contingency plan should be a priority. In this eBook, you will find steps that will help make sure your work from home policy is a success. If your business is preparing for a prolonged emergency this our eBook will help you keep ahead of anything that could happen.