When a disaster strikes, every minute, hour, and day of downtime negatively impacts business. How effectively your organization responds to a crisis will determine how quickly operations can resume, how much data is lost, and how customers, employees, and stakeholders perceive the company’s competency during a crisis.
Of course, it is impossible to anticipate when a disaster will occur. However, it is 100 percent possible to proactively prepare for many different crisis scenarios so that if and when the time comes, you are ready with an action plan.
One of the most important ways to recover quickly after a disaster is to create a detailed business continuity plan before you actually need it. This plan covers how you will keep the company running and protect mission-critical systems, applications, and infrastructure after a disaster or cyberattack.
Although your business continuity plan will provide direction on how to get business systems back up and functioning, it’s also important to take into account the people part of the plan. There is no business continuity without trained staff to implement the strategy, so be sure to include instructions for how employees will keep working if they can’t access the workplace or the company network for a significant period of time.
Here are five key ways to create a Plan B to ensure employees remain productive after a disaster or other unplanned disruption
1. Provide Remote Access to Files and Applications
Thanks to COVID-19, most businesses now have ways for employees to work remotely. However, as more employees move back into physical workspaces and organizations settle uneasily back into old habits, it’s important to maintain the ability to jump back to remote work almost instantly.
During quarantine, employees became accustomed to saving their work to a cloud repository so they could access it remotely. But don’t discount the possibility that business-critical files have been saved to a local drive. Have a plan in place in case needed files are on a desktop and not on the company network.
It is also crucial that the IT team is able to initiate recovery activity from anywhere. They need to be able to procure secure access to company resources after a disaster to allow key personnel to start the recovery process quickly.
2. Use Secure Collaboration Technology
Team and internal communication tools are critical to maintaining efficient workflow during and after a crisis. To facilitate the recovery effort and maximize productivity, select a single, company-wide collaboration platform and set up an account for each employee.
Host training sessions to ensure everyone can access the tool, knows how to use it, and is aware of the key features that will help them maintain productivity.
3. Set Up (and Test) Primary and Alternative External Communication Systems
How your company responds to a crisis can either destroy your customers’ trust or reinforce their loyalty to your brand. That said, they won’t know how you’re responding if you don’t tell them.
It’s crucial for your crisis communications team to stay in touch with and available to customers, partners, and other stakeholders after a cyberattack or other major downtime. If the primary email or phone system is knocked out, be ready with a backup communication system so your team can reassure stakeholders that you have the situation well in hand and you are implementing a strategic, well-thought-out recovery plan.
4. Don’t Lose Sight of the Needs of Other Roles
During a disaster, all eyes will turn to a core group of key players who are essential to kick-starting the business continuity effort. However, other roles within the company—such as sales, customer service, marketing, and administration—also have work to do.
When you draft the business continuity plan, be sure to review each departments’ roles and needs and include them in the plan. Better yet, invite representatives from each department and business unit to be part of the strategic planning process so there is no question whether all systems have been addressed.
5. Let a Disaster Recovery/Data Protection Solution Do Some of the Heavy Lifting
Keeping business operations moving forward during and after a disaster is the primary objective, and maintaining a safe and productive workforce is a key part of meeting that goal. Investing in a comprehensive disaster recovery and data protection solution is the most efficient way to get business systems back up and running quickly with minimal data loss.
However, when it comes to business continuity, all disaster recovery solutions are not created equal. Look for a SaaS solution that is scalable and easy for anyone—not just IT team members—to use. Also, make sure the provider offers high availability with failover capabilities to multiple data centers and cloud-based backup options.
Disruption is par for the course these days, but that doesn’t mean organizations are doomed to lose money or data after a disaster or unplanned outage. Preparing your employees to quickly move into Plan B mode will help ensure business continuity and employee productivity, even during a major crisis. Download How to Build a Disaster Recovery Plan for more tips on navigating less-than-ideal business conditions, whether manmade or natural.