Business Continuity in a Crisis
Business Continuity in a Crisis
Over the past few months many companies have faced business continuity concerns, as their workforce was forced to stay home or work under significant constraints. For some, with employees doing knowledge-based work that lends itself to working remotely, this was quite straightforward. For others this was highly disruptive as there was either no way to do so or the company was not set up to leverage a remote team.
In information technology circles, business continuity comes down to ensuring that services are available no matter what. Usually this is supported by several layers of redundancies with geographic dispersion of hardware, if at all possible (or leveraging one of the many cloud service providers who take care of this). However, there are other business continuity risks, some of which we have recently faced, which include a constrained workforce and achieving synergies with a team while working together at a distance.
Undoubtedly, many businesses quickly figured out that monitoring employees at a distance is quite different than in the office. Countless internet memes outline how an average knowledge-based worker can take advantage of remote work conditions. This can lead some employers to take on more risk by assuming employees will take all steps required to remain as productive, knowing that inevitably some will not. Other employers might try to install some sort of monitoring software to track what their employees are doing, which, if nothing else, leaves the employee with the sense that “Big Brother” is always watching. Even when they fully intend to work as hard as, or harder than, they do in the office, this almost certainly impacts their morale.
Some employers have quickly figured out that beyond these two approaches there is a third. Rather than track time in front of a computer, or hours per day, or monitor specific activities, they simply assign objectives that line up with an employee’s experience and skill level and establish whether or not these goals are met. At the end of the day so long as the work gets done when it is supposed to, does the employer care about the details?
From here, it can quickly be seen that for many types of work assigning objectives and assessing the results is not only freeing for the employee, but also for the employer, limiting the amount of time required to manage them. This, of course, is not a new concept and has existed in many forms all the way back to management by objective practices (1) and earlier. Not only this, it leads to a realization that augmenting a workforce for specialized work or to add capacity can be quite seamless, so long as the right objectives can be assigned. This makes working with, or at least forming relationships with 3rd party service suppliers, a possible component of business continuity and not something businesses should overlook.
These topics, outsourcing for specialization and capacity, as well as integrating this process with business continuity are topics we will explore further in future Virtus Groups publications.
(1) Toolshero – Management by Objectives