As the gradual easing of certain COVID-19 lockdown measures starts to become a reality in some countries, many organisations are turning their attention to the potential of returning to some semblance of normality. This gives rise to a number of important considerations, aside from the feasibility of continued large-scale home working discussed in last month’s tip, ‘Home from home?’ :
- The details and timescales for the lifting of restrictions aren’t necessarily clear-cut at the moment and there’s a very real possibility that they may be tightened again if there’s a resulting spike in infections. So we need to be prepared for various alternative scenarios. Scenario planning sessions and exercises, to explore the associated issues and actions, are an ideal way of doing this.
- If contemplating reopening offices and other workplaces, distancing and protective measures need to be planned for. These may include: moving desks/workstations further apart; installing perspex screens; closing or limiting access to communal areas (kitchens, restaurants, rest areas, lifts, toilets, etc); ‘one way traffic’ in certain areas, such as corridors, walkways and stairways; signage to reinforce this and to remind people to keep their distance from each other; additional cleaning and sanitising measures; and possible amendments to relevant policies and procedures.
- There will undoubtedly be numerous lessons to be learned from our experiences, with resulting issues and follow-up actions necessary to plug any gaps in capability. It’s essential that these are captured and followed up, to ensure we’re better placed in the future, whether there’s another outbreak of COVID-19, something similar, or a different continuity incident altogether. It’s therefore important to ensure we conduct post-incident reviews, and that these aren’t overlooked or forgotten in our eagerness to get business back on an even keel.
- Our other continuity risks haven’t necessarily gone away, just because we’ve been focussing on one particular one. Fires, floods, cyber attacks, terrorist incidents, extreme weather and all the other things the business continuity plan is there for can, and will, still happen. The fact that we’ve survived this particular crisis so far and, as a result, may well be better prepared for another pandemic or other scenario that requires us to move to home working, that doesn’t mean we’re automatically prepared for other incidents.
We may be moving towards the next phase of the COVID-19 situation, but now is definitely not the time to be complacent about our incident management and business continuity planning. So, whatever else you do, don’t cut the business continuity budget or sack the business continuity manager – at least not yet!