Want to contribute to this article?
Businesses and people are in the midst of an unprecedented disruption of daily life. Robust business continuity practices and a concrete Business Continuity Plan (BCP) have never been more crucial.
Qualsys Compliance Director Kate Armitage shares her top tips and recommendations for keeping your business alive and kicking during the COVID-19 era.
1. Assign responsibility
- Determine an individual or team responsible for maintaining, updating and executing your BCP
- Ensure that they have the authority to make potentially difficult decisions and access the purse strings
- Add a range of skillsets to your BC team, especially those who can represent your business-critical activities and any regulatory or legislative responsibilities. People like your DPO are a great example
- Ensure that responsibilities are clearly defined
Share the responsibility with other staff members to help everyone feel empowered and involved
2. Enable remote working
- Ensure your staff have the appropriate hardware and software for remote working
- Set up any necessary VPNs
- Ask staff to carry out their own workstation assessments to encourage good working practices in the home
- Encrypt any laptops and removable media such as memory sticks to support your security practices
- Ensure anti-virus and malware is up-to-date on everyone’s systems
Provide online communication and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, Zoom or GoTo Meeting
3. Inform your customers
- Keep your customers up-to-date with your activities and COVID-19 response, even if it doesn’t directly impact the service you are providing them. Be transparent!
- Provide a point of contact for any queries or concerns your customers may have
- Provide clear, concise, reassuring guidance on how you and your business are managing your activities
- Remember, in circumstances like those we are experiencing currently: everyone is in the same boat
4. And don’t forget your own suppliers
- If you're reliant on key providers and they haven't been communicating effectively, reach out to them to see what business continuity measures they've adopted
- Do they have a BCP?
- Can they continue to meet your requirements and if not, what contingencies do they have in place?
- Do they have any emergency contact details?
- And is there anything you can do to ensure that your supply chain is maintained and intact?
5. Remember mental health
As an employer you have a duty of care to your staff. This is a key consideration as people are forced to live and work in a way they are not used to.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. Pick up the phone, have virtual team meetings or a remote Friday catch-up event. Use notification functionality to check in everyone.
- Set a routine. It's all too easy when you’re working from home to remain connected 24/7. This isn’t healthy. Get up and shower, have breakfast, get ready for the working day, set up your workplace (and consider a couple of areas to move between). Remember your 'you' time, take regular screen breaks, and move away from your workspace for lunch.
- Get moving - including movement in your day helps with physical and mental health. Sitting in your garden or taking a short stroll at lunch can help you relax and refocus.
- Adapt your working style: video calls instead of emailing, short check-up calls with colleagues and Q+A sessions are all ways to quickly connect and share information
6. Make the most of it!
This may sound like an odd notion, but many organisations are experiencing a drop in activity. Although this presents significant risk to any business, it also presents an unusual opportunity for reflection and review.
- Review your business continuity plans
- Update your risk register
- Get up-to-date on your audits. Introduce some new ones
- Review and update your company’s policies and procedures
- Undertake some online training. Upskill yourself and your staff, provide refresher training and cross-training.
- Think about a new standard such as ISO 22301, or a certification such as Investors in People (IIP).
Ultimately, your priority as a business is to ensure you can continue to deliver your services or products to your customers. But in any business continuity scenario, it's also your duty to safeguard the welfare of your staff and their families.
This can be a difficult balancing act but with the right, flexible approach and suitable remote working tools your business can weather the storm and emerge more prepared and resilient than ever.
Build a thorough and detailed business continuity approach with our ISO 22301 business impact analysis template: