One of the important new imperatives for IT is to reframe how to view business continuity. The traditional IT metrics around business continuity are no less important than they have ever been: uptime, availability of applications and data, backup, recovery and disaster recovery.
But the dramatic shift in where and how people work requires a more expansive approach to business continuity, taking into account that IT must now empower a hybrid workplace where location, access requirements and remote collaboration demands are different and more dynamic than ever before.
Of course, the impact of COVID-19 has been the primary catalyst for accelerating this shift to a hybrid workplace. While remote work had been a nice perk for certain types of workers pre-pandemic, it has since become a necessity for a much broader set of individuals, including employees, contractors and partners across the supply chain and ecosystem.
According to one survey, 92% of traditional office workers say they prefer a hybrid workplace that allows them to either work mostly from home with occasional office time (40%), share their time equally between home and the office (31%), or work mostly at the office with occasional time at home (21%).
A new lens for business continuity
IT plays perhaps the most essential organizational role in empowering the hybrid workplace because none of this would be possible without the presence of ubiquitous, secure connectivity.
It is important to view this not as a burden but as an opportunity to achieve real, permanent and innovative changes that will transform the organization and improve the experience for all constituents—management, employees, customers and partners.
It is also important to always keep in mind that the first and foremost priority of any business continuity plan and strategy is the health and safety of employees, and secure connectivity can be a critical enabler.
In this context, it is helpful to define what business continuity looks like and to establish clear and achievable goals for both the short and long term. The following set of goals can serve as a starting point for many organizations:
An adaptable workplace that delivers secure connectivity, business resources and the right collaboration tools to employees, partners and customers so they can be productive and transact at all times and from any location when appropriate.
Starting with this as a basic framework gives you flexibility to adapt based on the needs of specific workers. For knowledge workers, it might be about working remotely via on-site hands enabled by augmented reality. For workers that must be on site, it could be about providing health and safety measures such as thermal cameras for temperature readings and contact tracing.
Building the right foundation
As with any digital transformation imperative, achieving this expansive model for business continuity will be a journey, one that never reaches an endpoint because it is continuously adapted, reshaped and redefined as business needs change and technology innovations evolve.
Change and transformation are expected. The key is to start by building the right foundation as soon as possible, so when change is necessary, the systems in place can react quickly and nondisruptively.
In the context of business continuity for a hybrid workplace, several foundational elements will give your organization the best chance for success. These include:
- Adaptability: This means having the agility to address the fluid and variable nature of the new workplace. You may not know exactly what changes are on the horizon, but you can be assured there will be changes. The key here is a simplified foundation, so when you adapt, you are not adding complexity and thereby fragility.
- Connectivity: Every person who needs to be connected should be connected, but with mindfulness and specificity. The CEO will need different access than someone in the call center. Connectivity has to be seamless and can’t be an inhibitor to productivity.
- Collaboration: Workers must have performant access to all the applications, data and tools they need to do their job productively and collaboratively, at any time, regardless of location.
- Security: Threat vectors are more sophisticated, attack surfaces are increasing, and people are working from home without proper training in basic cybersecurity hygiene. Your approach has to address these challenges, with security built in at every stage—and including it early is important and the most cost-effective approach. (Note to TT production team: We can link to the security article within the native site.)
- Intelligence: Intelligence is an important differentiator in achieving business continuity because it can infuse every aspect of it—adaptability, connectivity, collaboration and security—with automation and analytics-driven decision-making.
Taking the next step
Addressing the new normal of business continuity in the hybrid workplace demands a partner with a deep understanding of current and future business requirements. You can benefit by leveraging existing infrastructure without creating organic complexity, using a step-wise approach to transformation that is aligned to the business.