With coronavirus – or more accurately COVID-19 – now popping up across the globe, quarantining has fast become the most common and effective strategy to contain its spread. In some cases, these quarantine measures encapsulate an entire region like Wuhan or northern Italy, in others it’s a single individual or workplace.
While every business should have contingency plans in place to deal with such situations, it’s only in these most testing of moments that the value of such plans becomes clear, and their development becomes a priority.
If you don’t have a business continuity plan in place to deal with the potential effects of coronavirus, or indeed any emergency that could potentially shut down your office – a burst pipe, an extended power cut or a natural disaster, to name just a few – what considerations should you currently be making? How do you plan for the apparently unplannable?
Thanks to modern technology there are a wealth of ways and means. Let’s take a look at 5 considerations that you should be making to help your organisation get through an emergency.
1. Can my team remotely access everything they need?
In truth, there’s never been a better time for a business to navigate its way through an emergency. When the SARS outbreak hit in 2002, the cloud was a thing you looked at through your office window. Now it’s the most important piece of tech in your emergency response toolkit.
If you haven’t already made the move to the cloud, now is the time. The cloud offers your team remote access to business-critical information and applications, meaning you can continue to work as normal wherever you might be.
What’s more, a move away from on-premise solutions to the cloud doesn’t just strengthen your business in times of pandemics or disasters – it brings a wealth of other benefits too:
- Scalability: Instantly increase your business’s storage capacity, computing power and access to software with truly scalable solutions.
- Ultimate security: Automatic security and software updates remove the need for ongoing maintenance and management, and keep your data and systems secure.
- No capital expenditure: All-inclusive subscription models allow you to pay as you go, rather than investing thousands in software and hardware. Only ever pay for what you need.
- Remote collaboration: Say goodbye to overnight updates and clunky collaboration. Live updates allow you to remotely collaborate in real-time.
- A single source of truth: The cloud offers total document control. You can ensure there are no conflicting files, and all team members have instant access to one version of truth.
- Automatic back-up: Minimise the risk of lost data with cost-effective up to the minute back-ups and recovery solutions.
2. Balancing accessibility with security
Your remote workers need to have access to all the systems and information they require to do their jobs, but this access can’t be at the expense of security. Your second consideration will, therefore, be finding a balance between accessibility and security. Ask yourself: how secure can you make your systems without impacting the productivity of your workers?
There are now many sophisticated ways in which you can ensure secure access for employees while minimising the risk of infiltration by outside threats. Multi-step authentication and restricting employee access to only the areas that they truly need are two simple and effective strategies.
3. Remotely accessing telephone systems
The cloud can also ensure that an organisation has uninterrupted access to their telephone systems. Not only that, this tech can also seriously reduce ongoing costs.
Users of cloud-based private branch exchange (PBX) phone systems can communicate internally with each other for free, and externally using VoIP, ISDN or analogue technologies. These systems enable you to have more phones than you have physical phone lines, and provide a wealth of features that standard systems don’t, all at a lower price.
In an emergency situation, PBX systems come into their own. The user can bring the system with them wherever they are through the use of a phone or desktop app. Combine this with the remote access that a cloud-based business system offers, and an office can be set up anywhere with an internet connection, allowing business to go on as usual.
4. Ensuring video conferencing tech is fit for purpose
Nothing quite compares to face-to-face communication, which means that your video conferencing software is of utmost importance in an emergency situation.
Choosing the right video conferencing software solution is key, particularly if your team might be working from areas with slow or inconsistent internet. You’ll need a solution that will provide a reliable service no matter where people might be dialling in from or how many people join the call. There’s nothing worse than being halfway through a visual presentation and having to revert to voice only.
Other video conferencing considerations include:
- How simple is it to install and use?
- Is it a solution that your customers and suppliers also use?
- Is it competitively priced?
- Is it compatible with your hardware?
5. Is my team engaged as much as they are in the office?
Motivating and engaging a remote workforce can be a real challenge. Trading the energy of the office for a quiet seat in their dining room can see many workers struggling to get through their work, particularly those that gain energy from being around others.
So how can you recreate this engagement when everyone is working remotely? Considerations include:
- Consistently reiterating goals, and updating your team on its progress.
- Scheduling more regular touchpoints than what you would in-office, both with individuals and teams. Employees will often need more contact working remotely than they otherwise might.
- Humanise contact by trading email and instant messaging for voice and video calls.
- Avoid nit-picking, and instead, focus on results. It’s not particularly important that an employee is working in an old pair of track pants or from their kid’s room, as long as goals, KPIs and deadlines are met.
If there was ever a perfect time to get a business continuity plan in place, now is it. The spread of coronavirus is a timely reminder that your business needs to be able to work through any emergency situation, whether a bushfire, a gas leak or a company-wide bout of the flu.
Fortunately, it’s now easier than ever to get your entire organisation working remotely. The cloud and other technologies have made this way of working not only achievable, but in many cases cheaper and more efficient than a traditional office setup.
So, is your organisation ready for what the world might throw at it next?