When most people think of business continuity, they probably think about disaster recovery plans which big organisations bring into play after a catastrophic event. However, having plans for disaster recovery isn't just for large organsiations - small and medium sized businesses can equally find their activities disrupted by events outside their control. If unprepared for contigencies, the short and long term damage to the business can be every bit as severe.

Business continuity can even be affected by something as mundane as the weather. The severe weather which hit the North East last year had a dramatic impact on businesses and forecasters are predicting similar conditions for this winter. Sudden cold snaps can see schools closing leaving parents without childcare alternatives. If public transport services are cancelled or roads become impassable, staff can't get to work which can hit small firms with fewer staff the hardest.

In order to minimise disruptions, it's essential that business owners do all they can to mitigate the impact, and being proactive now will mean not having to rush out a last minute reactive plan on the eve of bad weather.

Home broadband connections can be a very important continuity resource. As well as personal web and email access, when configured properly they can grant secure access to company networks, allowing workers to access work systems. The advances in remote working have made it exceptionally easy for people to access emails and important files, wherever they are working. Voice Over IP systems such as Skype allow for cheap conference calling, as well as the easy re-routing of work calls to the location of your staff. Cloud computing, which gives access to shared files and applications, can also be very useful.

Setting up a ‘virtual office’ like this is well within the reach of most organisations, so it’s definitely worth getting your IT specialists to plan for how you could allow large numbers of staff to work remotely when circumstances dictate.

More information about getting ready for winter can be found on the "Ready Scotland" website.


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