Would working from home really work in the event of a Major Disruption to your business?

This year in Australia $80billioni will be spent on new technology with a large portion flowing into innovative disaster recovery solutions. Yet a surprising amount of businesses still rely on staff working from home in the event of a major disruptive incident.

Managing Business Risk has never been more important in today’s volatile global economy. Whether it be terrorism, cyber attack, or the unexpected such as fire or flood, now more than ever businesses are forced to look closely at their Business Continuity Management (BCM) plans to cement their businesses future.

Australia will spend over $78.7 Billion on technology this year alone with a large portion of this flowing in to Disaster Recovery (DR) to ensure its continuation. With so much reliance on technology to maintain our business operations I was surprised by a common response from business when asked, “So what happens if your building burns to the ground or is severely flooded?”

Out of a variety of businesses that I recently surveyed, 70 per cent responded with a similar response, in that their remote IT and DR solution is so superior that their staff can work from home and access everything we need them to. The other 30 per cent had workspace recovery sites in conjunction with their remote IT and DR solutions.

Billions collectively being pored in to DR yet the best plan by the majority of those surveyed is to send staff home to work if they suffered complete disruption?

Is it the sense of security that having the Rolls Royce DR backup and remote services giving these businesses a Superman like armour that they think is indestructible?

Common sense would suggest that without a smooth road to roll your Rolls Royce down it would be pretty bumpy, even with the world’s best suspension.

Here are some of the issues that disrupt the working from home theory that every business should carefully consider.

Employee Equipment: Most sophisticated companies these days have a wide range of equipment arsenal at their disposal. Most of which is in the employees’ possession 24/7, is seamlessly connected to the organisation and keeps the team at peak performance, consider:

  1. In the event of a fire or flood would this mobile technology be enough to keep the team going from home for a long period of time?
  2. Are the latest company updates automatically sent out to your team’s devices, if not how would this happen in the DR event?
  3. If there were hardware issues how would this be resolved quickly to keep the employee going at peak performance, keep in mind your main area of business no longer exists?

Home Internet and Reception Services: I personally moved in to a home in Como recently and was shocked to realise that when in the kitchen I had next to no mobile reception. Looking out the window I could see the BHP building but if I wanted to call Mr Mackenzie I was out of luck, unless of course I went out in the street to get a few more bars of reception.

Connecting the internet was no different, I was shocked when the ISP technician was complaining that he was having a hard time trying to get a reasonable speed to watch movies or download a TV show. All this less than 10km from the city, consider:

  1. Do you have any staff in Como? Seriously, how would any employee be expected to perform at normal capacity in this type of scenario? Does the Superman back up system check home internet connection and connectivity?
  2. With a huge range of ISP options it’s incredible to think that such a large amount of businesses are relying on every employee having a sound internet service and phone reception to keep their multi million-dollar business operational.

The Help Desk: Any business these days greater than 3 – 6 staff has an IT guru or help desk in their office. He is the guy that saves everyone in the mornings when your computer is in a bad mood and is determined to make your day a living hell.

Lets consider this scenario, your business has a fire and you suddenly have 30 people that are working from home. Lets assume that all of them have devices that they can work off from home and everyone has been successfully contacted not long after the incident with some simple instructions on how to connect the next working day to continue operations as usual.

Out of the 30, 15 have issues gaining access or logging on at 9am the next morning. On top of this the IT guys/Help Desk are also working from their homes. Needless to say the held desk phone hasn’t stopped ringing all morning. The MD wants a piece of them and so does their back up service provider who are frantically trying to get the back ups on line and the virtual environment set up without issues.

Even the 15 people trying to call in who have a problem that lets say takes 30minutes each to fix would take the Help Desk almost a day to correct, and that’s based on no other problems.

Executive Communication: At a time of disaster everything is on the line, reputation, profits, and survival! If your entire team was working from home how would you manage critical decisions in real time?

Who is talking to the media, who is assuring your customers, who’s assuring your staff and who is looking at the business survival over the next few critical hours and days?

What are the alternatives: There is no disputing the importance of a high-end data back up service that enables effective remote access. What is absolutely critical is a clear BCM Plan that addresses all of the above issues.

Kenny Seowii, Partner at Riskwest with over 25 years in Business Continuity Management experience advises that “Organisations often take an over simplistic view of working from home as a business continuity strategy. Intuitively it is an attractive and cost-effective strategy but having remote working capability under normal day-to-day operational conditions do not necessary mean that the same will work under disaster conditions. It is important that all technical and operational issues associated with the strategy are carefully considered.”

Most if not all of the above issues could be resolved with a workspace recovery site. The Sitting Roomsiii specialises in this area with a wide range of options for varying business sizes. With over 100 workstations, access to the NBN, meeting rooms, staff recreation areas and front reception services the Sitting Rooms can host large teams in the event of an emergency. With state of the art facilities and equipment your business can have seamless access to your back up site and get your business back to normal within hours.

If you would like to discuss how the Sitting Rooms can support your BCM please contact Michael McLeod Managing Director of the Sitting Rooms at Michael@sittingrooms.com.au or call 1300 724 071

i http://www.zdnet.com/article/australian-technology-spend-to-hit-au78-7-billion-in-2015-gartner/

ii http://riskwest.com.au/partner-profile-kenny-seow/

iii http://sittingrooms.com.au