As we approach the 4th month of the COVID Pandemic, most organizations have figured out how to make the “Remote Work” model functional. Users are productive, technologies have been deployed and properly configured and processes and policies have been adapted to ensure the best productivity possible. Just in time for it all to change again.
In a webinar with our CEO, Skeet Spillane, as well as Kenneth (KC) Carnes, InfraGard National Sector Chief for the Electric Sector and Caitlin Durkovich, former Assistant Secretary of Infrastructure Protection at the Department of Homeland Security, now with Toffler Associates, we discussed the future of the business work environment and looked forward 3 – 5 years to what Toffler calls “novel normal.”
As we move towards this “novel normal,” and governments are beginning to provide guidance on “re-opening”, it is imperative that we start to conduct “Business Resumption Planning”. But what assumptions should serve as the foundation for this planning? Here are some assumptions agreed upon by most:
Many organizations will move to a more permanent remote workforce. While some businesses are looking forward to moving back to an office environment, many are planning to reduce office space to accommodate longer term full or part time work from home.
Traditional office spaces could be reduced or modified to accommodate remote work models.
Information security needs and requirements will change with the new model.
Organizations will need to implement new policies, processes and technologies to assist in the protection of their assets and their staff. This protection requires more than just IT attention. Collaboration with HR and legal counsel will be required for successful implementation.
Complexity of monitoring and identification of threats is significantly increased. Threat surfaces have exponentially increased. Threats are increasing, and the level of sophistication continues to evolve.
“Business Resumption Planning” is traditionally the process of identifying the processes which have been negatively impacted during a disaster and developing detailed plans which allow the process return to its normal operational state. COVID-19 presents executives with a unique set of challenges as they start their planning process:
What stages of business resumption should you define? (Pre-Pandemic, Work From Home during Pandemic, Partial Work from Home, Longer term “Novel Normal?
What is the timing for each of these stages?
For each stage,
o When can which employees return to office workspaces?
o What processes have been impacted or have changed
o What processes or procedures need to be in place to support operations at each stage?
o How will workspaces change upon return? (Are these temporary changes or
o How do you staff the resumption process? (Do roles within the business change?)
o Do we have the right resources to continue our business and resume operations at the
same time or do we need to supplement or modify?
The Business Resumption Process should be treated very much like a Continuity Planning process. An incident response team should be assembled/activated and an Incident commander defined/engaged. The plan should be built and prioritized based on safety, capabilities and impact to revenue and risk levels involved. A key component of the plan should be an effective and comprehensive communications plan for every stage.
Business Resumption Planning Stages
Whatever the “Novel Normal” will look like the planning process will be critical to your organizations short-term and long-term success.