As a business leader, have you ever asked yourself the question, “If I don’t have access to my building for an extended period of time, where would I go to maintain my operations?” Indeed, a major incident or crisis may require the relocation of operations to other internal or external sites for a considerable period of time.
There are certain aspects that must be considered in selecting an alternative site to ensure that it is the most effective, knowing that it represents your “lifeline” of sorts, including:
- Strategically located. In other words, the alternative site must be far enough away from the main site to not be affected by the current situation at the main site, while being close to quality public infrastructure and easily accessible for your employees and external partners.
- Technologically viable. That is, it must have an adequate level of technology and functional equipment. In addition, it must meet information security requirements and the minimum needs of your most critical activities.
- Adequately protected. This means that minimal measures must be in place to control physical access to the site perimeter and certain internal areas. In addition, measures must be in place to ensure the health and safety of the occupants, the detection and tracking of risks, and the physical integrity of the premises in accordance with current regulations.
- Operationally autonomous. Thus, the work and common areas are arranged according to the regulations in force and the minimal business needs. The site therefore has the robustness and capacity to remain functional for a long period of time.
Teleworking is not the answer to all situations
At the very beginning of the pandemic, many companies had to adapt their way of doing business and incorporate teleworking into their daily routine. Two years later, with teleworking having proven itself, some organizations are questioning the relevance of having an alternative “physical” site where it is possible to group the employees needed to maintain critical activities, since they are already at home to perform their tasks.
In some cases, it is true that teleworking can be an interesting option for “office” type jobs, but this approach has its limits and can represent a false security and a blind spot in terms of sound management.
For example, if an ice storm causes a major power outage in one area of the province, many of your employees who live in that area and are working from home may not have power or Internet access. In such a situation, what would you do to maintain your operations if you don’t have an alternative site? This is why limiting yourself to this approach is not the most optimal option for your business. Instead, prioritize a multi-faceted approach where telecommuting is considered as a complement to a business continuity site and not the other way around. This is an important nuance.
It is also important to have an insurance policy that states that your company has multiple places of business, including multiple sites with telecommuting employees to cover the risks that may arise from teleworking.
Types of business continuity sites
There are several options when it comes to determining a business continuity site. It’s true that teleworking is effective and can be maximized, but, as mentioned, it’s important to keep a site where employees can co-locate.
- Use an existing work location. If your company has more than one location (building/offices), you can divide tasks between them and prepare those locations accordingly, either by setting up common areas, open desks with computers ready to use, etc. This is one of the best options since it allows you to have full freedom in terms of site management and accessibility. And generally, it is the least expensive approach.
- Have a bilateral agreement with another company. Whether it is with a company working in the same industry as yours or in another field, it is possible to sign an agreement with it in order to share your respective work spaces. This approach requires more organization, for example, to provide the necessary space or equipment in case of an incident, but its main advantage is that it is less expensive than renting dedicated space. However, you must make sure to separate your activities from those of the other company in order to respect the security of each one’s information, whether it is to have a separate Internet connection or separate computer infrastructures. The same applies to paper files and interactions between employees of both organizations.
- Do business with a company that specializes in setting up business continuity sites. Generally, these companies offer two approaches.
- A dedicated site. This allows you to rent a space of some sort that you can set up as you wish and that is accessible at all times.
- A shared site. This means that the space is rented to more than one company. While this approach is less expensive than a dedicated site, it carries the risk that the rented space may not be available when you need it. This would happen if another company was already occupying it at the time, so you would no longer have a business continuity site.
Technology recovery site and those for emergency coordination
In addition to the business continuity site where operations are resumed, it is important to consider two other strategic locations: a technology recovery site and an emergency coordination site.
In the event of a major technology incident, a technology recovery site would house, at a minimum, backup copies of all your business data and provide the technology support needed to operate them. Different approaches are possible to achieve this objective by considering cloud and physical sites.
Moreover, the emergency coordination site is ideal for organizations with factories or multiple offices. For example, in the event of a fire evacuation, this site allows the managers responsible for coordinating the response to a major incident and/or emergency as well as the resumption of operations to be brought together under the same roof.
Businesses shall be prepared for any eventuality, as none of them are immune to risk. Resources and measures must be put in place in advance to ensure minimal recovery of the most critical operations. Moreover, not all risks must be concentrated in the same place, hence the importance of knowing how to allocate resources effectively.
Benoit Racette Services-conseils Inc. will help you implement or revise your business continuity, technology recovery or emergency coordination site based on the best practices and recognized standards in the field. Of course, we always take your reality into account in order to offer a service that meets your needs. Contact us now: [email protected].