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Remote Work is Critical to any Emergency Business Continuity Plan

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green-and-white-male-gender-rest-room-signage-134065Enabling employees to work remotely during a critical event is a business continuity practice being adopted or contemplated by many companies. Today’s mobile technologies make true collaboration feasible. And the idea that workers who can’t be present due to weather, outbreaks or other circumstances can continue being productive from home is appealing. However, making this a practical strategy requires solid planning, clear policies, and excellent communication.

Here are a few things to consider before implementing an emergency business continuity plan with remote work:

Candidacy

It’s not likely everyone in your company is a candidate for working from home. Regardless of circumstance, many offices and production facilities still require onsite employees in order to stay operational. With this in mind, evaluate each position to determine which employees can practically work remotely.

Clear Remote Work Policies

Remote work policies should be clearly defined and well-communicated in writing to employees. Your policy should clearly define a “work disruption event” so that your employees understand when remote work is acceptable. Policies should be detailed and include the various circumstances where either full-pay, time plus, or PTO are applicable. Be sensitive to the inequity that some employees may feel when a portion of the company is released from duty during a disruption while others are expected to continue working. Also be clear on any union requirements or international worker regulations that may affect your remote work policy.

Network and Tech

In addition to identifying the employees who are able to work from home, it’s important to assess technology needs and document available resources in your plan. Decisions must be made on what equipment will be provided by the company and when it is appropriate for employees to utilize their own personal devices (e.g., personal home computer versus company-provided laptop). Proper security protocols must be addressed to protect the information being accessed away from your physical site, including provisions for a VPN and antivirus software. Make sure your employees know how to securely access their documents and email away from the office. Finally, be sure that your organization's internet network is secure, with clear plans in case of an outage or disruption.

Practice Drills

As with most things, practice makes perfect. Testing an emergency business continuity plan is a key to successfully managing a real response/recovery. Given this, include remote work scenarios in one or more of your annual exercises to uncover gaps in your plan and provide a foundation for improvements to your approach.

Adding a remote work plan to your business continuity arsenal can better prepare your organization to continue its mission in the face of a major work disruption event. 

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