Is your business prepared to continue operations during any type of work force disruption? This could be a transit strike, an earthquake, a terrorist attack or any other natural or human-induced disaster. Are you prepared to experience maximum growth for your company? According to the Society for Information Management, 70 percent of enterprises report being prepared for a data center
outage. Only 13 percent of enterprises are prepared for a work force disruption. How will your company operate if employees can’t get to work or can’t communicate with each other, customers or suppliers? “We advise companies to set up their systems so employees can conduct business from home or any other off-site location should an emergency situation occur so the company can continue conducting business as usual,” says Omar Yakar, CEO of Agile360.
Smart Business asked Yakar for information on the importance of work force continuity and how a system might be set up.
What is the importance of having a work force continuity plan?
You never know when something might happen that could make it impossible for employees to conduct business from their main office. Strikes, road damage, natural disasters, pandemics and terrorist attacks can happen anytime and anywhere. How do you communicate with employees if they can’t get to work? How do you know which employees are affected by any of these occurrences? How do they know what is expected?
According to the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, 93 percent of businesses that suffer more than 10 days of system downtime will file for bankruptcy within a year.
It is not just the big disasters that we should prepare for. Who wanted to go to work in the D.C. area during the sniper attacks a few years ago? How do employees get to work when roads are closed by wildfires or earthquakes? What about snowstorms or hurricanes in other parts of the country? Forrester says a 5,000 employee organization will suffer a $1.4 million productivity loss as a result of a three-day work force disruption.
Gartner recommends that employees be able to work at home for an extended period of time and be able to communicate with each other and especially with customers and suppliers.
What should a work force continuity plan include?
Your plan should include who is responsible for making decisions, where notifications should be sent, the mechanism for communicating to your employees, an employee roll call, a designated disaster response team and a hierarchy plan. As soon as your employees take care of their own personal safety and that of their families, they need to know what to do next. They also need to be able to communicate their needs so employees can supply assistance or pass the word to others who could help.
Is it expensive to put together such a system?
If you think about access to your corporate applications and systems as part of an overall access strategy, then work force continuity capability can be built in and set up on a pay-as-you-use basis. If employees can access your data from any location and communicate with everyone they need to, your employees can cover their personal and family needs and your business needs so your company continues to operate. You just need the system that provides your employees a work force continuity kit (as small as a box of mints) containing a USB key and a retractable headset.
Please tell us more about the work force continuity kit.
With a properly planned system, employees with the kit can plug their USB key and headset into any computer with an Internet connection. This will automatically check in the employee and provide him or her with a desktop, access to corporate applications and a software telephone to communicate within the system. If someone needs water, supplies or anything else, they can let others know. You use a third-party service to maintain the data recovery and access points and pay by consumption. The costs only apply when the service is used. Another benefit is that with a properly executed access strategy, employees can work from anywhere. This means that as you expand your business you can mitigate real estate and IT management costs by having the flexibility to locate employees where it is optimal. An access strategy is all about reducing the cost of running the business so you can focus on growing it.
Additionally, a byproduct of implementing common sense infrastructure and operational improvements is the achievement of objectives such as regulatory compliance and disaster recovery.
OMAR YAKAR is CEO of Agile360 in Irvine. Reach him at (949) 253-4106 or firstname.lastname@example.org.