The pandemic awakened us to the importance of business continuity. According to The Future of Business Continuity & Resilience Report 2021, 79% of the respondents noted that their appreciation of resilience rose in their organization due to the pandemic. So here are the top 5 lessons that will aid resiliency in the next normal.
1. Tech Is the Driving Force of the Next Normal
Technology is the string that kept organizations connected with their people amidst the crisis. From collaboration to file sharing and video conferencing, tech played a pivotal role in operational resiliency.
Moving forward, the tech will be the enabler of innovation and a catalyst for overcoming hurdles. Here are 3 ways tech will be the heart of change.
a) Future-proofing business
Your business continuity plan should not only underline how daily operations will take place but also future-proof your business for any uncertain circumstances or the next normal. The IT system should be robust to handle the large volume of logins from your employees working remotely even after the pandemic ends.
b) Prepare for the Next normal
Since most of the workforce likes to work from home or other work-conducive places, i.e., adopt a hybrid working style, IT teams need to ensure they’re not faced with latency, network instability, and other network issues.
Lastly, it’s no surprise that cybercrimes have skyrocketed amidst the pandemic. Crimes like phishing and malware are low barriers to entry for hackers but highly profitable. Thus, maintaining good IT hygiene, following the best practices, and most importantly – educating your employees on these practices to secure your workforce and data should be your top priority moving forward.
2. Develop or Refresh Your Business Continuity Plan (BCP)
This goes without saying – BCP is not a task to strike off a checklist but the backbone of your business during crises or disruptive scenarios.
BCP should not be a one-and-done task; instead, the plan should be put to the test to see if it could withstand harsh winds of disruption to shield your organization.
While BCP looks different for every organization, some of the common goals could be:
• Ensuring employee well being
• Establishing excellent communication with employees, partners, vendors, and customers
• Enabling tech to support or automate business activities
• Defining how the business will operate during the crisis; and more
The first step should be to conduct a BIA (business impact analysis) to achieve your goals. This exercise analyzes the impact of the crisis on business and defines the way forward.
For example, one of the questions you can ask is, “what are the critical roles and activities?” The answer could be a revenue-generating or customer support activity. Then further analyze how your essential workers will function and how you will ensure their health and safety. Finally, have a backup should anything happen to your essential workers.
3. Building Resilient and Agile Processes
Resiliency and agility became a buzzword amidst the pandemic and for all the right reasons.
While resiliency is integral for businesses under all circumstances, it was more important during the pandemic since almost everyone (except the essential workers) was working from home.
This forced businesses to rethink the way they operate and enhance operational resiliency. Operational resilience simply means a business’ capacity to continue working in the face of disruption.
One of the best ways to enable such resiliency and build agile processes is adopting the cloud. In fact, the cloud is your most critical asset to drive success in the digital economy.
One of the best advantages of cloud adoption is that you can scale up or down your assets based on current requirements.
According to Orange :
“Cloud has revolutionized business continuity and implemented correctly, helps you increase operational efficiency by as much as 95%.”
One of the examples of cloud could be taking your on-premise applications to the cloud to centralize your workforce. This will help you achieve effective insights and data and utilize them to make your workforce more productive and design efficient strategies.
Finally, you can also use the cloud to manage payroll, re-skill employees, and support your workforce regardless of where they are.
Cloud adoption can also help you leverage AI/ML to solve supply chain issues, efficiently manage data, and streamline other processes.
Lastly, it’s impossible to know exactly what is coming up. Often it’s the unexpected rise in the cases or new variants of the virus-like Delta and Omicron that can dim the possibilities of a virus-free world.
However, resilience and agility will put you in a far better position to handle the unforeseen.
4. Hybrid or Remote Working Is Here to Stay
It’s no surprise that remote working is here to stay. Infact, employees expect to work from home in some capacity even after everything returns to normal.
According to FlexJobs , the majority of the respondents (65%) wish to work full-time remotely while 33% prefer a hybrid work environment, and only 2% want to return full-time to the office post-pandemic.
Indeed, the pandemic has awakened us to the possibilities of working from home with its benefits like heightened productivity and suppressed operation cost.
However, it’s now the onus of the IT teams to ensure workers are well equipped to work from home or other locations like cafes and airports (where public networks are not safe to use).
When employees were working inside the office parameters, their devices, data, and networks were secured with iron-clad security measures.
But now that they’re working in and outside of the office, how will you ensure security? More importantly, how can you overcome issues like latency and unsecured networks? That’s what your BCP should include – a plan that suggests ways employees can work in a hybrid fashion without compromising the company’s precious data.
Finally, empathy goes a long way. It’s essential to understand that the change is difficult for everyone, even those working from home. That’s why it’s critical to have an IT team on stand-by to support the learning curve and respond to any data loss or cyber attack that happens outside of your premise.
Therefore, your BCP should underline how employees will work from home or any other place moving forward. This means understanding whether or not your IT infrastructure can support them. Furthermore, WFH-borne cyber risks are also to be assessed.
5. An Eye on the Present, Another on the Future
Situations like the current pandemic require organizations to think fast and pivot faster. With the workforce turning remote, transactions halting, and other business-critical activities on stand-by, the scenario tested the resilience of organizations.
That’s why it’s not only important to respond to the current situation but also to forecast how the business will continue operating after the emergency.
For example, with the rise of hybrid working, companies need to plan for bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, manage human resources in a remote setting, and address employee well-being under challenging times.
Finally, Another concern for companies moving into the next normal is cyber threats. Again, it’s only the first month of 2022 and catastrophic threats are already breaking the headlines. Therefore, business continuity plans should outline security measures for hybrid working.