Hurricane Dorian

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Workplace recovery – the next industry to be disrupted?

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IWG’s Global Solutions Director for Workplace Recovery explains why the industry is ripe for change

 

After Hurricane Dorian – the first major one of this year’s season – ripped through the Caribbean and up the southeast corner of the US in September, it left a trail of destruction and a terrible loss of life in its wake.

Survivors were faced with the huge task of clearing up the aftermath and trying to get back to business but, with extreme weather conditions like these on the rise, traditional workplace recovery plans have come under scrutiny as businesses take pre-emptive measures to mitigate downtime.

Hurricane Dorian aftermath

Traditional plans have always been structured around IT and data access, so that critical staff can keep a business running. What this means in practice, however, is a recovery server in another location, and a temporary office to accompany it.

When it comes to today’s modern workplace (and way of working), this model has been called into question for three reasons:

The cloud conquers all

The rise in cloud computing has allowed us to access information, software and systems from anywhere, which itself has resulted in the dissemination of data. What this means is that data is no longer stored in one location but between servers and users – making the location-based recovery plan of old obsolete.

Location, location, location  

When disaster strikes and renders your location unfit for business operations, transplanting your team to another fixed location can present its own problems. As was the case with Dorian, entire cities were laid to waste – so, in a situation like this, relocating to a new office in the same city is clearly of no use. Relocating to a new office in an undamaged part of the same city also raises issues for the staff trying to reach it.

The airline approach

The financial model for workplace recovery is much the same as the way airlines sell seats: essentially, oversubscribed. This is okay if businesses require premises at different times but falls apart in the face of a huge disaster like Dorian. In a situation like this, the one time your business needs the seat you’ve been paying for another business might be sitting in it.

According to Daniel Perrin, IWG’s Global Solutions Director, Workplace Recovery, what’s needed is a dynamic plan that’s adaptable to the ever-changing conditions on the ground. “When Hurricane Harvey hit Texas, Regus offered the capacity to ensure that customers could continue working because it had 70 locations in the area,” he says.

“One of our customers wanted to recover to one of our offices in the Woodlands, outside of Houston. This seemed sensible, but as the storm approached it became clear that this client’s employees would not be able to reach the site. We were able, proactively, to contact the customer and adapt their plan in real time, by the minute, recovering them to another location that would not be affected.”

A dynamic recovery plan, then, needs to be fully adaptable and truly responsive – or, as Perrin puts it, “one that offers a network of locations to choose from and offers flexibility to meet customers’ needs”.

When a natural disaster hits, it makes sense to have a plan in place from a provider with a wide reach – that way, recovery office space is guaranteed, and a greater choice of premises means you’re more likely to find somewhere that suits your needs. As is the case with so much of the way we live today – from ride-hailing to portfolio-working – flexibility is key.

 

Find out more about how to build a business continuity plan with Regus