Summer is officially upon us, and summer means vacation! If you and your team are planning to go on vacation soon, there’s an important question to ask: is your company prepared to deal with the unexpected while you or a key employee is away?
If you’re not sure where to start to be properly prepared, this article is for you! Below, we present some ideas and examples of emergency situations your company could face during the summer months, when your workforce is reduced. As the aim of this article is to raise your awareness, we’ll limit ourselves to a few brief explanations.
Risks are more present than ever
With climate change on the rise, there are many unfortunate situations that can have serious consequences for your business. Think of the heat waves we’re currently experiencing, wildfires, smog, heavy rains and tornadoes, which are becoming increasingly common in Quebec. Power failures, floods and landslides are also very real risks. Cyber-attacks, major computer breakdowns and data leaks could also affect your IT systems during your vacation. As for logistics, supply chain problems have been an issue for many local companies for several months now.
Imagine one of these situations occurring while you’re on vacation on the other side of the country, and you’re not properly prepared: the crisis will be all the more difficult to manage, especially if you only become aware of the situation on your return.
As a company, what should you do?
Several small actions (“quick wins”) can be put in place beforehand. Here is a non-exhaustive list to guide you through the process:
Assess the company’s level of preparedness for various emergency situations
As mentioned above, your company can face any emergency situation, at any time. So it’s essential to take the opportunity to review your various resilience plans: business continuity plan, crisis management plan, IT disaster recovery plan, cyber attack plan, emergency preparedness plan, etc., to make sure they’re up to date. If you don’t already have these plans in place, it would be beneficial to consider doing so in the near future. Don’t hesitate to call on us for expert assistance in this process.
Update your contact details
Is the contact information for people with roles and responsibilities in your resilience plans up to date? It’s important to check this regularly so that you’re not caught out when an emergency situation arises. If you don’t have such plans, then it may be necessary to draw up an emergency contact list of managers and key employees, while ensuring that the information remains confidential, according to the legislation in force in your territory.
Reminder of roles and responsibilities
Do your people in charge, and their substitutes, remember their roles and responsibilities in the event of an emergency, a crisis or the triggering of a resilience plan? It’s not every day that an organization has to manage a major crisis, so it’s highly likely that your employees have forgotten, or at least partially forgotten, the steps they need to take in such a situation. It may therefore be a good idea to organize a meeting with those involved to remind them of their roles and responsibilities.
Review your vacation calendar
Does your vacation schedule take into account the substitutes previously identified in the resilience plans? You need to take a stand on this question: can a primary and a substitute take vacations at the same time? If so, are you prepared to assume the consequences that could arise if the main people in charge and their substitutes are on vacation during the same period and difficult to reach?
Check your telecoms contracts
Telephone, mobile, Internet, etc. These contracts must be up to date and functional. An interruption in any of these services during the summer is never optimal.
Check the schedules of your critical suppliers
Nowadays, some companies are closed during the vacations due to a critical shortage of manpower. For your part, it’s essential to check the summer schedules of your most critical suppliers, so you can better plan your activities and find an alternative if they are closed during their summer vacations.
Physical, technological and information security
If your company is closed for the summer vacation period, a good approach to reducing the risk of intrusion or unauthorized access during this period could be to review the access rights of all those holding, for example, access cards (can your vacationing employees enter if everything is closed? Is this allowed? Is this normal?) Don’t forget that very often, it’s not just your employees who have access cards.
The other aspect of security to consider is access to your systems and data (don’t forget cloud data). If your company shuts down entirely for the summer vacation period, is it necessary to leave all IT access unattended? How do you secure remote devices (computers at home for teleworking) and data accessible on mobile devices when many won’t even be at home (e.g. camping, at the beach, in another country, etc.).
In terms of information security, whether in the office or teleworking, it’s essential to secure confidential data and documents. For example, it may be necessary to ensure that non-essential VPN connections are deactivated, that laptops and confidential papers are locked away, and that unnecessary documents are shredded.
It’s also important to make your employees aware of the risks of cyber-attacks. As the mobile phone is sometimes still connected to certain work-related elements during the vacations, such as the e-mail inbox, you need to remain vigilant in the face of fraudulent links or other phishing attempts.
Admittedly, these access management scenarios can represent a colossal effort for one or a few weeks’ vacation. It’s probably not necessary to cut out or modify everything, especially as this would be administratively cumbersome and could lead to problems or delays on the return journey. Nevertheless, a review of physical and technological access rights can help to put these aspects in order, and to think about a policy or a management method for the future.
Get into prevention mode
Summer is often a good time to schedule equipment and/or system maintenance, as operations usually run a little more slowly than usual. Take the opportunity to carry out those updates you may have been putting off for a while!
Your primary objective is to ensure maximum resilience in preparation for your vacations and those of your employees. An incident happens so quickly, you don’t want to have to deal with the worst during this well-deserved period of rest. Benoit Racette Services-conseils inc. is here to help you prepare. Contact us today: [email protected].
On that note, our team wishes you a wonderful summer! We’ll be back on the blog in September with a brand new article, so stay tuned!