By Dan Perrin, Managing Director of Workplace Recovery at IWG
This article explores how flexible workspace can help to minimize disruption to employees and business during a crisis.
It’s impossible to foresee all business crises or the impact they’re likely to have on employees. This article discusses how flexible workspace can ensure business continuity and productivity during disaster days.
Disaster can strike a business at any time and with little or no warning. They can stop companies from operating for days, weeks or in extreme cases, permanently. It’s for this reason that it is fundamental that businesses have an effective disaster plan.
Flexible workplace is becoming a key tool in the arsenal for risk directors, offering emergency office space as and when it’s needed. On 1st July 2019 for example, Guadalajara, Mexico was hit by a freak hailstorm that buried the city under five feet of ice. This had a significant impact on people’s ability to travel, thereby affecting many companies’ ability to continue operations. It was during the storm’s aftermath that Regus Mexico opened three of its flexible workspaces to local businesses to offer stranded employees fully-equipped offices from which to work.
Unexpected downtime, such as that experienced in Guadalajara, can mean that employees aren’t able to get to the office or access key IT systems to work from home. It can cause disruption to daily routines and incur significant cost for businesses and the economy. According to research by insurance provider Aon, for example, extreme weather cost the global economy $215 billion in 2018.
In these situations, the role of Risk Directors becomes crucial. They are responsible for identifying threats to companies and coming up with plans to help minimize their impact on the business. Whilst these plans must cover a multitude of different aspects, arguably the most important in ensuring business continuity are the plans put in place to support affected employees.
Disasters around the world
Disaster plans vary from country to country, as different areas of the world are susceptible to different types of threat. For example, the US and China are some of the most vulnerable to natural disasters due to their size. The US Hurricane Research Division, says that on average, close to seven hurricanes every four years hit the United States, whilst the China Meteorological Administration reports that coastal residents face, on average, ten typhoons annually.
As well as destroying businesses and infrastructure, these incidents can have a huge emotional impact on employees, meaning that they potentially require additional flexibility and support in their working life.
A good example of this is the support offered by Fletcher Earthquake Recovery (EQR), the company involved in the residential rebuild of Christchurch, New Zealand. As many of the employees of Fletcher EQR were local residents and so affected by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, the company provided counseling, showers and washing facilities for times of emergency, it also regularly invites speakers and holds workshops on topics such as resilience and mental health.
How flexible workspace can help
Flexibility and understanding from businesses towards staff is key in times of crisis as natural disasters and other crises can cause a logistical nightmare for employees, such as not being able to get to their normal office or having to stay close to home. This can add to the stress they are already experiencing, but flexible workspace providers can help to alleviate this additional pressure. The best providers offer bespoke workplace recovery solutions to ensure that staff are able to access emergency office space at all times, in a location that is convenient for them.
IT and connectivity are also key issues to plan for in a crisis situation. Most flexible workspace providers will also have teams on hand to assist businesses in setting up and combatting these issues, once again taking the stress away from employees.
Looking after your workforce
Whilst flexible workspace has the benefit of allowing business to continue through a crisis and remain productive, it’s important to remember the positive impact that a workplace recovery strategy can have on employees.
By adopting flexible workspace into risk planning and strategies, businesses can minimize disruption to the routines of their staff, operating from a location that is nearby to their regular office. This also helps staff know where they will be working during crises, thus avoiding confusion and any tension between employees and the business due to a lack of communication.
As the effects of climate change become more and more evident, it’s important that businesses are prepared for the worst. Workplace recovery programs are a great way of ensuring that your business is adequately prepared for unforeseen threats and can successfully weather the storm.
As one of the market leaders Regus, for example, has 3,000 business centers in almost 900 cities. This outlines the ability for flexible workspaces to offer convenient and accessible emergency office space for companies recovering from a disaster, almost anywhere in the world. Visit https://www.regus.com/workplace-recovery for more information.