Refresh Business Continuity Plans To Lead with Communication and Empathy

For many companies, the recent pandemic has put fresh perspective on the need for continuity planning.

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“[COVID-19] is a wake-up call to organizations that focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience,” said Gartner analyst Sandy Shen, in a statement.

Although most companies likely have some sort of business continuity plans, it’s likely they haven’t been reviewed in several years. That’s no surprise; the economy has been healthy and we have to focus on day-to-day operations. These continuity plans are typically seen as “break glass” plans, and not something most have to think about the majority of the time.

Unfortunately, the global coronavirus pandemic and our need to suddenly transition to remote work has taught us that ongoing business continuity planning is essential and if you wait until you need it to review, it’s probably too late. Let’s look at some of the elements that are important to consider.

Factor #1: The human element should be front and center

As we’ve seen in this expansive shift to working from home, the transition is as much a cultural adjustment as a technological one.

Regardless of what each company’s workforce looks like and whether employees have worked remotely before, the en masse nature of this pandemic means we have to learn new ways to communicate, manage our time, and find productivity boosters.

To avoid frustration and confusion, business continuity plans should be written to include empathy for what employees are going through during a time of extreme change. Be supportive. A business disruption — whether it’s a natural disaster, a cybersecurity attack, or pandemic — causes disruption for everyone in ways many don’t expect.

For example, LogMeIn recently ran a survey to understand how workers were managing during the COVID-19 quarantine. We found that 45% said they were dealing with household distractions — such as parents juggling the school needs of their children, employees caring for elderly parents, and many people having to create makeshift desks from dining tables or kitchen countertops. That’s why business continuity plans should take into account that workers may need to adjust their schedules to accommodate family, friends, or their remote work/home environment.

Right alongside this is the need to consider how technology solutions and work policies allow for flexibility and productivity — from a range of locations and across workforce generations. Every person is different. What can be helpful is having IT partner with HR to shape a clear communications strategy for consistent knowledge sharing with employees — like work-life balance tips and remote-work collaboration guidelines in a time of crisis.

Factor #2: Empower the workforce with easy-to-use tools.

During the pandemic, we’ve also learned that flexible, layered communication is critical. The technology — even during regular business operations — should be easy to use and powerful enough to support a wide range of communication, from chat to video conferencing. These solutions should work across a highly distributed workforce, taking into account the need for large, town-hall type virtual meetings, collaborative team conferences with data sharing, and one-on-one calls.

We also recommend that business continuity plans include robust training and knowledge of communications tools and their many features and use-cases. The more that employees are prepared, the more quickly — and securely — they can adapt to changes in work routines. This will also promote an environment of trust, where workers are confident not only in the tools they have been provided, but in their abilities to use them most impactfully.

Factor #3: Step up support within and for the IT department.

During the recent global pandemic, IT leaders and their teams have fielded higher volumes of support-related and help-desk requests from employees who find themselves working remotely at a moment’s notice. Meanwhile, they have been triaging systems for scalability, bandwidth, and security outside the traditional office setting.

We’ve learned that remote work is the new normal. Companies have been investing in digital business for this eventuality, and this pandemic was the ultimate experiment to show that remote work can be just as productive as office work, and often employees prefer it. Now is the time for refreshed business continuity plans to flesh out what that means for the IT department. They should include:

  • Remote monitoring and management tools
  • Managed services to serve as an extension of the IT team
  • Self-service functionality and chat-bots to instantly get employees answers and solutions
  • A triage plan for remote workers that, for example, has a backup scenario when they can’t access applications or phone systems
  • Easily scalable solutions with sufficient bandwidth so that customers don’t see or feel operational pains
  • A dedicated IT that supports remote workers

As IT and business leaders step up their business continuity plans, we should all recognize that the  remote workforce is the new normal. And it’s critical to have the procedures, policies, and tools in place to support that.

mark strassman updatedMark Strassman is the Senior Vice President and General Manager

Mark Strassman is the Senior Vice President and General Manager for LogMeIn’s Unified Communications & Collaboration business unit overseeing market-leading UCC products GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, Jive, Grasshopper and more.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.