There’s been a lot of talk in the past few months about the impact of the pandemic on business continuity management, but most of it has been heavily filtered. It’s either come from the point of view of top-level executives talking to the media or consultants passing along things they’ve heard from clients.
We wanted to hear a different point of view. We wanted to hear from hands-on BCM professionals who have been out there on the front lines—adapting, improvising, keeping things going, and riding the changes.
We wanted to hear from you, our readers.
We recently sent out an email survey asking how the pandemic has impacted your organization’s operations, culture, plans, and readiness. We incentivized people to respond by offering an irresistible prize: a chance for a free pass to DRJ’s upcoming conference “Resiliency in a Time of Rebuilding” (live in Phoenix, Sept. 19-22; virtual Oct. 11-14).
We’ve gathered the responses and awarded five randomly-selected the passes to those who completed the survey. It’s time to crunch the results.
The survey attracted 117 responses. Here are the top seven takeaways:
- The pandemic has been virtually synonymous with work from home in the experience of most BCM professionals. In responding to the survey, just over half of the respondents talked only or mainly about WFH.
- People’s impression of the impact of WFH runs the gamut. Some people said that getting good at working from home, as an organization, has increased their resilience. Some were surprised at how well WFH has gone. Several pointed out that WFH created a need to make connectivity infrastructure such as VPNs more robust while reducing the importance of protecting physical locations. Many respondents said WFH has reduced or eliminated their need for alternate work locations. “It has made telework the primary recovery strategy instead of alternate site(s),“ as one person put it. Several people pointed out that a broad shift at their organizations to WFH required them to rewrite their BC plans. As one respondent explained, “BC plans had to be readjusted to assume remote was the primary operating environment.”
- The pandemic gained BCM a welcome boost in visibility and respect. Many respondents reported the pandemic and WFH has led to the BC office receiving increased cooperation and respect from senior managers and other departments. “Executives are paying more attention and placing more importance on having up-to-date plans,” wrote one person. Another reported, “Plans have become critical for the C suite, to the point where they want every conceivable issue documented.” A third respondent wrote, because of the pandemic, “BC planning has become more of a priority for the organization.” A fourth said their organization’s solid response to the pandemic “brought some level of confidence in business continuity,” with the result that other departments are now more eager to work with the BC office.
- The pandemic brought increased awareness of supply-chain vulnerabilities. A couple of people mentioned the pandemic had led to their organizations’ becoming much more mindful of supply-chain security. One person noted the pandemic revealed a “higher degree of vendor management [was] required.” Another said, because of vulnerabilities revealed by the pandemic, their organization had arranged for “additional raw material vendors.”
- Dealing with the mental-health impact of the pandemic and WFH might be unfinished business for BC professionals. One respondent noted their business continuity plans worked well in terms of responding to COVID and implementing WFH, “[but] we need to address employee burnout and other employee mental health needs in our BCP.” Another respondent had a different take on the employee health issue, writing, about COVID-19 and workplace safety, “I left my company because they refused to properly protect their employees.”
- Back-to-work is a work-in-progress. One respondent wrote about what’s going on in their workplace right now: “We are in the beginning of the execution phase of return to office and long-term decisions on the percentage of permanent telecommuters and the number of days of those with a hybrid arrangement of home and in-office work are yet to be decided by upper management.”
- Business continuity did its job. Several people reported with satisfaction that the past year and a half put their programs to the test, and it was a test they passed. As one person put it, “Our plans have been tested with pandemic, snowstorms and power outages and have held solid.”
You can’t ask for a better experience than that, as a BC professional. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts.