The Government has announced its lockdown exit plan, and organisations throughout the UK are taking their first tentative steps towards what for many will be a new operational reality. What coronavirus business continuity considerations should you be making as you plan your return to the new normal?
Business continuity plans are wonderful things, preparing organisations for anything from gas leaks at data centres to the failure of local transport networks, malware infections on critical systems and most things in between. What many organisations’ business continuity plans seem to have missed, however, was the potential for the coronavirus pandemic to require 98% of staff to work from home at extremely short notice and for an unknown amount of time.
This is uncharted territory for many of us. Although there are and will be unknowns, strong planning will help organisations ensure they are in the best position to thrive as we enter the new normal. As the Government has set out its exit plan to ease the UK lockdown, many organisations will be considering how to return safely to more office-based working.
In this blog, we will take you through some of the considerations organisations should be taking as we transition together into the new normal.
Coronavirus Business Continuity
At Six Degrees we are working hard to adapt to a dynamic situation that is developing at pace. Our business continuity planning needs to be flexible, evidence-based and empathetic to the needs of both our people and the clients we support.
We have broadly aligned our coronavirus business continuity planning to four areas – our people, our clients’ business needs, how we return to the office in a safe way, and lessons learned.
Communication and consultation have been absolutely critical to our coronavirus business continuity approach. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week has a key theme of kindness, which feels especially relevant as we work together to endure these turbulent times. The simple fact is that many have found the new normal very stressful, for a huge number of reasons. We need to take that into consideration, and ensure we maintain open, consistent communications channels that give our people the support and reassurance they need to continue to be brilliant at what they do.
Our Clients’ Business Needs
Like many organisations, our clients will be looking to align their coronavirus business continuity plans to their operational requirements. As their technology partner, Six Degrees plays an important role in this. As employees begin to transition back to their offices, our clients will be considering desk reconfigurations, reviewing laptops for malware before they are reintroduced to the corporate network, a move away from hot desking, and any number of measures that are unique to the organisations and their operational requirements. The key is to plan early. A number of clients will change the way they work in the longer term, which will mean understanding what’s really needed for optimal working – not just good enough. And of course, cyber security is vitally important – remote working brings with it a greater risk of malware infection and data breach. The way we deliver services to our clients must meet their business needs in the new normal.
How We Return to the Office in a Safe Way
Over the course of the lockdown, many of us have come to realise the benefits of working from home. We want to bring these forward as we consider a return to our operating locations, whilst also ensuring that we return in the safest possible way. Our approach will depend on operating location. For example, our central London head office will require public transport for most people to access, and this brings with it increased risk. Our data centres, on the other hand, are fully owned and operated by Six Degrees and accessed by car. This reduces risk and gives us greater control over when and how our people utilise the facilities. Whatever the location, our plans will be based on geography, teams and the segregation of shifts – all essentials considerations that need to be taken to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
Regardless of how successful or otherwise an organisation’s coronavirus business continuity planning has been to date, there are always things we can do better. One thing our teams at Six Degrees have really embraced is the communication and collaboration capabilities available to them through Microsoft Teams. The software is one thing, but it’s the people that use it that really make it work. Our teams have been carrying out regular meetings, informal catch-ups and remote social activities in order to stay connected even when they are physically apart. We have every intention of taking these lessons learned into our day-to-day operations even as we begin to enable our people to work together in our offices again.
Planning Your Return to the New Normal
We are operating through unprecedented times. The true impact of the coronavirus pandemic is something we will begin to understand over the coming months and years, but in the now it is incumbent upon us to continue to operate in a manner that minimises the risk of infection and contamination, and supports the Government’s efforts to stop the pandemic in its tracks. One small way we can achieve this is by openly sharing the lessons we are learning as we continue to adapt our coronavirus business continuity plans. To discuss your organisation’s business continuity requirements, please get in touch with us – we’re confident we can enhance your ability to communicate, collaborate and deliver brilliant services to your end users.