Remote working for business continuity

| 24 March 2020

Not that long ago we all had business continuity plans in place to help us cope in the event of a crisis or state of emergency. Now unfortunately we’re having to put those plans into practice. Now we’re all doing our best to keep business going and ensure the interests of our customers, employees and suppliers are protected.

These are extremely challenging times and have we have seen some businesses, retail outlets, cafés and restaurants have already have to shut up shop.

Many firms were unprepared in terms of enabling for remote working, with only 30% of business leaders saying their organisation was ready for the rise in remote work, according to research by Harvard Business School. MIT Sloan Management Review has also found that a staggering 38% of remote workers haven’t received any training on how to work remotely either.

On the flip side, some companies did have a business continuity plan in place to mitigate against the potential disruption caused.

A business continuity plan enables an organisation to keep operating to the best of its capability even in the case of a major disruption or unforeseen event such as a cyberattack. A central part of that plan is the ability for your staff to work remotely wherever and whenever possible if they are unable to get into work or their workplace has been disrupted by something such as a fire or flood.

Under the latest Government guidelines for COVID-19, everyone should work from home if they can, to try and prevent the infection spreading.

Rise of remote working

Thanks to the digital evolution, many jobs can now be done remotely: all you require is a computer and a phone line or WiFi. And it’s a trend that’s going to continue to grow, with 42.5% of the workforce operating mobily in 2022, IBM has reported.

The main benefit of working remotely is that your employees can still do their job well and achieve high levels of productivity. Indeed, remote workers are about 13% more productive than their office counterparts and took fewer sick days, according to the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Remote working also enables people in different time zones to connect at the same time without needing to be in the office.

For the employee, it negates the time and stress of travelling to work, as well as preventing them from being exposed to unnecessary risks, such as catching a disease, as in the case of COVID-19. Being able to work remotely is also an attractive proposition for prospective employees because of the flexibility it gives them, providing businesses with access to a much wider talent pool, as well as helping with retention.

However, there are downsides. One issue is data security, if they are accessing your system and software through an unsecured network.

There’s also a higher chance they will get distracted by things going on around them at home and be more unproductive as a result.

How to build your business continuity plan around remote working

So what do you need to do to put your business continuity plan in place? And how can you ensure that your employees are properly set up for remote working?

First of all you need to appoint someone to be responsible for drawing up a business continuity plan and properly testing, reviewing and executing on it. Their role includes carrying out a thorough business impact analysis to ascertain the effect of a sudden loss of business functions and how to mitigate against it, including the use of remote working.

In order for remote working to function properly, you must ensure that there’s a level of trust among the team that everyone will collaborate together to fulfill their role to the best of their ability. Then you need to provide them with the technology they need to work on a remote or mobile basis, utilising some of the resources that you already have.

That can include issuing them with company laptops and phones, and access to project management and file-sharing platforms such as Google Docs or Dropbox.

The next step is to ensure that they have read and understand your policy about remote working and what’s required of them in their role. You should follow this up with regular video or teleconference calls with individuals and as a team to make sure that everyone is on the same page, and encourage feedback on how the remote working process can be improved.

Also use it as an opportunity to check in on your staff’s mental health and any other problems they might have, such as managing childcare or care of elderly relatives.

There are a host of online communication tools that you can use for this including Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack and Google Hangouts.  

How Konica Minolta can help your employees to work remotely

At Konica Minolta, we can provide you with the right support and infrastructure to keep your business running 24/7, and enable your staff to work remotely in almost any situation. Our suite of IT services and network of partnerships with leading technology suppliers will provide you with full access to any team member or piece of company data you require, all within a secure environment.

To achieve this, initially we carry out a full analysis of your working environment to understand your customers’ needs and business processes. From that, we are able to provide the appropriate monitoring and management of your entire remote working network.

And because we take a holistic approach where we act as the single point of contact, this means you don’t need to go through multiple service providers.

Among our core range of services is Workplace Hub (a scalable, all-in-one IT solution), IT security, backup and recovery, smart search, digital mailroom and digital invoice processing.

“Thanks to our close relationships with our customers, we know they require appropriate IT systems and solutions that can be integrated into company environments and provide platforms for effective collaboration,” said Yoann Fortini, ITS GTM Manager, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe GmbH. “With our deep portfolio of IT services and our broad network of top-tier partnerships with leading technology suppliers, we are able to create solutions that truly meet the needs of today’s workforce.”