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Key areas to think about in your business continuity plan

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Preparation is key for businesses

Lindsay Zwart, Business Director at Vodafone New Zealand.
By Lindsay Zwart, Business Director at Vodafone New Zealand

Flexible and remote working practices have long been part of a business tool-kit, however the advent of a disruption like Coronavirus (COVID-19) is likely to accelerate the shift towards a flexible and distributed workforce, especially for knowledge workers and white-collar roles. Businesses are facing the scenario of some, or perhaps all, of their workforce needing to work remotely for large periods of time.

But for many businesses it is not as simple as just sending staff home. Your staff need to be equipped with the right tools and your IT infrastructure needs to be set up to support it.

So what does this mean? There are a few key areas you should be thinking about in your business continuity plan.
Equipping your people

Mobilising your workforce to work remotely will be key to business continuity should you have a significant portion of staff in self-isolation or you need to close an office. Providing them with the tools needed to work remotely will mean those not suffering symptoms can get on with business as usual, from the safety of their own homes.

These tools may mean devices such as laptops or tablets, and smartphones. SIM cards in laptops will minimise Wi-Fi constraints and headsets will make collaboration that little bit easier. Also if your devices don’t come with an in-built camera suitable for video conferencing you may want to consider supplying a webcam.

Connecting your people

Then there are the collaboration tools needed to drive productivity amongst teams and assist with that essential social connection often missed when in isolation.

Audio and video conferencing solutions or instant messaging services keep your teams in contact.

If they are phone-based staff you will need to think about how they can still make and receive calls – can they log into your organisation’s PBX system or can you divert calls to their mobiles?

Hosting all documents and files in a cloud-based system will allow your people to access them from anywhere and provides easy collaboration. Having a virtual private network (VPN) system allows staff to link into the business’ private network securely.

Securing your systems

Having so many different locations your people are working from adds extra complexity when it comes to making sure your IT systems will still keep running and will remain secure.

Many organisations don’t expect their staff to work remotely at the same time when purchasing their VPN system, so it is important to check the number of licences you have for remote access and scale up if need be.

Just as important is ensuring the systems they will all be logging into and your network infrastructure can support a significant amount of people all accessing it from out of the office.

Securing all work devices with endpoint security controls such as firewalls, anti-virus and malware protection will go a long way to preventing any unwanted IT intrusion. Additionally, using a unified endpoint management (UEM) solution will give you peace of mind that you are maintaining a secure IT environment.

Pandemic or not, Coronavirus acts as a reminder for us all to ensure we have good processes and systems in place to keep our people safe and our businesses working throughout unexpected disruption. Having a strong plan in place, with the tools and resources to support it, will see your business through the worst and allow your people to continue on doing what they do best.

For more information on how you can prepare your business for COVID-19 see Vodafone’s Business Continuity checklist

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