The Coronavirus outbreak is having an unprecedented impact globally, with people around the world having to make significant changes to rapidly adapt to new ways of living and working to curtail the spread.  With whole industries disrupted and entire workforces required to work from home, organisations now face the daily challenge of how to maintain their mission-critical operations.

Traditional approaches of business continuity focus on availability of corporate locations and resources, the critical functions your organisation provides and the ability to provide those locations, resources and functions for your workers or customers.  Planning to meet the requirements to keep your organisation functioning is normally focussed around deploying your resources and people to redundant sites to continue to provide for your customers until normal operations can be resumed.

Many of the usual BCP considerations still apply but with entire workforces required to work from home, there are even more challenges for organisations to address. Keeping workers secure, connected and engaged is more important than ever.

Here I’ve outlined some key questions organisations now need to ask themselves and how we might approach each of these scenarios. A big part of the answers to these questions is going to be pinned on the technology available to your business. Considerations like how my organisation maintains its security posture and what are the important applications and platforms that my business needs to keep going are all still relevant. The current scenario, however, presents new paradigms organisations will need to think about.

How can we remain secure?

While organisations will still need to focus on the traditional questions of security and critical applications; now there is a distributed workforce to contend with, the question remains: how I can keep my businesses data secure across all sorts of locations and a variety of platforms; personal, corporate, mobile and laptop devices? Cloud-based technologies and the Software as a Service model extend to presenting your organisation with a mature security platform that improves the users' sign-in experience while increasing security to access corporate applications and data. Cloud-based security offerings can benefit your organisation through enforcement of multi-factor authentication and a provide a comprehensive logging, auditing and alerting platform

How can we remain connected?

Cloud-based technologies, so long as they comply with an organisation’s governance model and regulations, can provide improved methods of connection and service delivery for remote users, applications and partners. Cloud computing delivers computing services with different levels of management across the Internet. This provides organisations with increased levels of productivity by leveraging the global scale of these highly flexible, configurable and developing environments.

Cloud computing can provide abstractions of data centre and office environments to extend services such that would be typically available only within the office or through virtual private networks to be available securely and reliably using the Internet. Applications can be scaled horizontally and vertically depending on load and conditions to ensure users or customers are still able to receive high quality service which will ensure your organisation can stay effective or competitive in the face of disruption.

How can we remain productive?

Platforms operating as Software as a Service solutions can quickly bring many capabilities to help your users stay in touch and communicate effectively, enabling them to continue to be productive despite the change in working conditions.

There are many excellent collaboration tools now with a suitable level of product maturity that enable your staff to continue to work together and share ideas, through many capabilities like video conference, chat and document sharing.

New considerations need to be made to ensure employees feel engaged, supported and valued by the organisation. Organisations that were early adopters of cloud services are already likely to know how to provide value to their people with education and support around how to take advantage of cloud productivity tools.  

Those organisations who haven’t previously prioritised these types of services will face the mounting challenge of trying to communicate concepts and functionality of those tools to new users whilst from a distance. Many organisations will have had to act quickly to adopt and deploy these types of solutions that allow users to connect, in a rapid manner.

For these organisations, strategies need to be implemented to help users get the knowledge required to leverage their new work environment quickly.  How do they get training? How do they get help?  Solutions for these types of problems should take a holistic approach to the modern workplace that will allow for similar experiences for users regardless of where they sit or the device they use. The ability to share information and stay connected that is offered by Cloud-based solutions will assist in users being able to find the resources needed. 

The adoption of these types of strategies and considering the new flexible workplace requirements we have been forced to move to will provide an improved level of service for your users and ensure your organisation is able to remain productive in these uncertain times.