I am often asked my opinion about using a work-from-home solution as part of a Business Continuity strategy. So, in this blog, I will give my opinion.
I am all for leveraging an already existing work-from-home capability in your business continuity program but I am against using business continuity reasons as the justification for; and, using business continuity budget dollars as the source for building out a work-from-home capability.
If there are other, legitimate business reasons for providing a work-from-home capability for a portion of your work force, than, by all means, take advantage of that during business interruption events in your production facilities. But, there are just too many negative aspects and too many better solutions to spend your business continuity dollars on than providing a work-from-home capability.
Work-from-home solutions are a one-to-one strategy – capability provided that works only for one employee. Should that employee not be available to participate during the contingency period, those resources are useless. And, if you enforce an eight hour work period, which I think business continuity programs should, these resources are only useful during the time that one employee can work. It is not reasonable to think that you could have other employees go to one employee’s home to utilize this capability.
Also, employees come and go. Should that employee, who has work-from-home resources provided, decide to leave the company, or even just transfer to another position in the company, those resources either need to be redeployed or are no longer valid for business continuity purposes?
I think, if you are going to spend business continuity dollars on outside of the production facility working environments, they are better spent on centralized, work-area business recovery solutions. Your typical alternate site work area solutions allow…
- Resources to be used by a variety of different personnel; over shifts that can be utilized 24 hours a day.
- The solution to be leveraged across a number of geographically distanced production facilities.
- A solution that survives employee turnover.
- A solution that can be leveraged during non-emergency times as training facilities or for other purposes.
- A centralized solution to gather employees and better manage them through the crisis.
So no, I would not build out a work-from-home capability solely to support the business continuity program, but, if there are other legitimate business reasons, supported by outside the BCP budgets, than, yes, you should evaluate the benefits of utilizing this capability in your BCP strategy.
Also, however, I like to issue this word of caution: Many business environments provide a work-from-home capability to allow employees to work outside of the office on special occasions for a variety of reasons. These capabilities are used throughout the year with no real problems. But, they are not used by everyone at the same time. Often, the work-from-home capability supports a few users at any given time – for off hour access, or other rare occasions. Accessing the production resources from home, over time, for all the employees having this capability does not necessarily prove that you can handle all employees using their work-from-home capability at the same time. Companies that plan to rely on this capability during times of crisis must stress test that capability with high volume usage to ensure that the infrastructure can handle the capacity.
Hopefully, at a high level, I have adequately stated my position on this topic. But, if you would like, we can talk about it more – give me a call … on my home phone.