How to perfect a business continuity plan for remote working

Across the globe, millions of employees are being advised to begin distant or home working, but managing and coordinating a remote workforce is unfamiliar territory for many business owners.

As companies look to ensure the correct equipment is available for the workforce, it’s crucial that key stakeholders don’t overlook the security and technical implications of both employee and business data whilst working remotely. Ultimately, this could result in a loss of confidential company data and a drop in revenue.

Cloud solutions and continuity experts at warn that all businesses should conduct ‘thorough and sensible preparation’ to keep business operations functioning outside of the office. 

Paul Jeffrey, technical services director at iomart, provides his top tips on maintaining resilience and integrity in the event of employees being isolated from the office for a significant period of time:

Connect to the mothership 

Make sure you are regularly connecting to your business systems in a secure way. Often your business will provide backup, anti-virus updates, and patches via automated systems. Fire up the VPN (Virtual Private Network) and connect, even when you think you might not need to.

Analyse past incidents

Good planning keeps your business compliant, with both operations and reputation intact. Be vigilant and use intelligence gathered from previous incidents to inform future plans. For example, you may have experienced troubleshooting with critical software systems in the past, so it’s crucial to ensure you have the resources and capability to fix this as soon as possible if it were to happen again. 

These learnings will help businesses understand what risks there are to their supply chain and use these to guide their plans - while also factoring in the unexpected. 

Identify critical functions

When planning, think about what your business can’t function without. Consider the people, processes, systems, and premises, and establish which core functions and structures are necessary to keep you operational. The people responsible for each of these aspects should then form your ‘crisis team’- who will be your core ‘go-to’ team to help coordinate a response in the event of a business system breaking down.

Document and communicate the plan

Those involved in implementing a business continuity plan should be aware of their responsibilities and have easy access to the plan whenever necessary. Regular reviews of the plan help to keep what’s most important in mind and speed the response time when a crisis does take place. Share the plan with any key stakeholders too so that they have confidence in your planning.

Conduct regular run-throughs

Once you have your backup plan, ensure that everyone who needs to be involved is familiar with it. The best way of doing this is to run through the plan a few times to look for vulnerabilities.

Tests should be carried out to make sure that all elements of it work seamlessly and those critical systems can be fully recovered.  With Disaster Recovery Testing, for instance, this should meet the crisis recovery requirements that have been benchmarked for both the business and wider industry.

Offer advice

Lastly, the most crucial element to ensure smooth operation during remote working is to offer as much advice as you can to the entire workforce and communicate internally more than usual.  It can be extremely isolating working from home, so be sure to strengthen your lines of communication. Embrace the tools your employer can provide as much as you can. Share your calendar with those who need to know what your availability is. Ensure your messaging status is up to date.

However, ensure that workers stay focused during working hours. To maximise output, encourage employees to log out of their social media platforms and disable personal browser notifications, and encourage the workforce to match their normal working pattern – breaks, lunches and so on. It’s important to try to retain an appropriate structure to your day where you can.