This the second part of a two-part blog about business continuity plans (BCP) and the changing risk landscape. Read part one here.
Why have a BCP?
The whole point of a well-planned BCP is so that a business can continue its operations during an incident or disaster, hopefully uninterrupted. Or if the business is disrupted, then the BCP should help to minimise the issues and keep the arteries of the business functions flowing. Key contacts will need to be calm and work methodically in any crisis and communication will be crucial.
What part does technology play in a BCP?
“If Covid-19 is the bad boy of the 21st century, then surely technology is the saviour?“
Without technology at the level it is now – from smartphones to the global connectivity of the internet – the world could have been facing an almost impossible task of managing the risk with Covid-19, as effectively as we all are today.
Our firm had, thankfully, invested in cloud technology as far back as 2014, meaning we could work from anywhere in the world (as long as we had access to a browser using the internet). Since then, some staff, including myself, have regularly worked from home each week and so, in reality, we had tested the remote virtual working environment in a well-established manner. That has stood us in good stead as we had never given thought for one moment that one day the whole firm would have to work remotely at home.
Our BCP did have a plan for relocating to another office in a disaster scenario, as I suspect all BCPs of other businesses do, but we had never considered that we could not relocate to other office premises. Covid-19 changed all that.
Risk management issues on remote working
An office environment like ours has all the security and comfort of a physical IT infrastructure. People (staff) working virtually from home, don’t have that and so pose a greater risk to the business.
Part of our risk management strategy when coping with the lockdown was to ensure staff had the right IT equipment at home. Some staff use the firm’s devices, and some use their own. In any case it’s vital that every device is protected against cyberattacks – having up-to-date antivirus software, as a minimum. Using a simple online staff survey we were able to quickly gather information on everyone’s home working environment. We gave support where needed and constantly monitor this by keeping in touch with our people.
Suggested security checklist for staff working virtually at home
Some important suggestions to consider for home workers:
- Make sure the device (laptop, PC and so on), is safeguarded with security: strong passwords and antivirus software
- Do not leave your device logged in and walk away if you share your household with others, as client data must be kept confidential at all times
- Don’t click on suspicious emails. Full stop
- If your home WiFi router still has the default factory password, change it to a stronger one to avoid hacking
- If you use a printer at home, securely shred any printed material – don’t leave it lying around for others to view – confidentiality is important.
Video calling – beware of the risks
We, like many businesses, had to migrate from day one of the lockdown to a video calling platform. It was the best way to stay in touch with the whole firm and our clients. We currently use Zoom, although we plan to keep this under evaluation in case a better platform emerges. Whilst we may not currently be able to walk down the corridor as we used to, and pop to see a colleague to discuss client work, or even just a social chat, video calling allows us to keep in contact visually – from management meetings to training events. Our clients have embraced this new way of contacting us and are happy to have a video call nowadays. It’s the way of the future of legal services I believe and not just a temporary measure.
“People really are your best asset in a business during a crisis.”
And finally, don’t forget to update your BCP with the new kid on the block (Covid-19). I have a feeling we may need to manage this risk ‘suspect’ for a whole lot longer. But, hopefully, the pandemic will subside soon and that one day be wholly eradicated. One thing it has taught us all though is that a sudden, unplanned lockdown, with its forced change of working environment (working from home), was much more manageable with a good BCP.
But remember, every BCP needs people at its heart to make it work – people who need to communicate and work together as a team, albeit remotely. Technology is great but it needs people to use it as an effective tool during a business continuity situation. People really are your best asset in a business during a crisis.
Website content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal and risk management issues.