Susan Diehl-Brenits, Advisory Consultant, MHA Consulting
An often-overlooked component of a strong business continuity program is having a work-at-home option as part of an alternate worksite strategy. But making it a realistic option is essential.
With the cost of alternate worksites (hot/warm sites) increasing, having the ability for employees to continue critical business activities from home during a business disruption is vital, but the right components need to be in place to ensure this strategy works.
Here are some best practices to consider:
Make working from home part of your corporate culture
Employees need to have the right tools to succeed. This includes company issued laptops or the ability to access company systems from a personal computer. Do employees take laptops home every night and/or can they access corporate systems from a personal computer? If not, you’re limiting your employees to working only from the official alternate worksite or waiting until a laptop can be issued to them.
Define critical work beforehand
Critical work needs to be defined in advance so that during a business interruption employees are focusing on the prioritized business activities and not the activities that can be deferred until after the disruption.
Can the network handle the traffic load?
Does every employee working remotely during a business disruption need to be working at the same time? Is there the potential to work in shifts?
By having employees access network systems during different times, you will reduce the demand on the corporate network. Defining and communicating times to work/access systems should be considered.
Keep the lines of communication open
Communication is key when working from home. Employees should be able to troubleshoot problems and minimize downtime. Make sure employees know who to contact when they are having issues – whether it is problems accessing a system, network connectivity, or questions about a business activity.
Practice makes perfect
Finally, make sure that when you need to implement your work-at-home strategy for a business disruption, it is not the first time employees are working from home. Allow employees to work from home occasionally to ensure they know how to connect to the corporate network from home, or how to work with the IT helpdesk to troubleshoot a connection.