Implementing Business Continuity Planning for Hybrid Work, by Mathias Jensen

BCM expert, Mathias Jensen

The COVID-19 crisis has surely left a lasting imprint on the work culture and approach to running a business. As BCM professionals, the way we work with Business Continuity should change and adapt to the new hybrid work model together with all the other parts of the business.

Because of how hybrid works, the workplace scenario has become both more complex and much simpler at the same time.

There is no longer a need to plan for an event where for one reason or another the workplace becomes temporarily unavailable, as working remotely has become an everyday occurrence. However, now we have to plan for a wider range of scenarios that include a large part of personnel becoming unavailable due to a power outage, internet breakdown or any other scenario affecting a larger geographical area. Here are some things you should take under consideration when working with a hybrid workplace:

1. How do we plan for when a significant group of employees or key personnel becomes unavailable due to a larger geographical disruption such as power/internet outages, or equipment malfunction? 

It is crucial to ensure that the plans on how to switch employees back to working from the office or a cold site in an event of a crisis or disruption are in place. This may seem like a simple solution, but it is not something we have commonly had to plan for in the past.

It means that depending on where your business is located, there may be more challenges than you expect.

2. It is especially important to have plans that cover processes with a very low RTO (1-4 hours). 

It is an easy mistake to underestimate the response time available when moving staff back to the office. If you have 2 hours and staff has to travel to the office by public transportation or commute during the rush-hour traffic, you may need an alternative recovery strategy that takes less time. For example, this could be a complete, temporary transfer of tasks to employees located in a different geographical area.

3. The last one may not exclusively be a BCM concern, but is certainly important enough to mention. The mental health of employees may be strained, and issues or personal crises will be harder to spot by management when working from a distance. 

It is necessary to understand that employees’ mental health is as important as their physical well-being. We work to ensure that the home workplace meets the minimum requirements for our employees, but we may neglect to think about some of the consequences of not having a team close to you. During a crisis or a BCM incident, make sure that you have a process that covers the mental health of your employees; a clear debrief, lessons learned sessions, and social activities online/offline if possible. All of these events are a chance to spot any mental health issues present within your staff and help them deal with the stress of the disruptive incidents as a group, taking the pressure off of individual employees.

There are a lot of good things that have come out of the hybrid work model, but we have to understand the risks that arise from it as well!

Good business continuity programs adapt their thinking and methods to include all possible disruption scenarios, and working hybrid is no exception.

BCM expert, Mathias Jensen 

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