Disaster Recovery, the Workforce and the Swing of the Pendulum

Business started with people. Then came machines, followed by information technology. With IT running business (so to speak), disaster recovery was focused on IT. In fact, the one thing that was often conspicuous by its absence in DR planning and management was people. Now, with declarations like ‘our people are our greatest asset’, there’s a swing back towards emphasising the need to ensure the workforce is just as well-prepared for recovery as the IT systems and infrastructure it uses. Here’s our alphabetical list of items to check now to be even better prepared for any future IT incident or disruption.

  • Authority. Recovery is underpinned by employees having the authority to get things done, and knowing they have that authority. Disaster recovery plans must clearly state who does what and when, and who should step in if the first person in authority is cut off from the rest of the workforce.
  • Breadth of skills. Cross-training already offers the benefit of varying work activities and opening up new career possibilities. It may also be crucial in a time of crisis in order to start up strategically important IT activities again. Make sure employees regularly exercise additional skills they have learnt.
  • Connectivity. The workforce needs to be able to use essential IT systems, which means being able to connect to them from alternative locations or from home if required.
  • Discussion. Employees engage better in recovery procedures when they can voice suggestions and opinions during the planning process. Likewise, two-way communication for exchanging the right information at the right time between employees and management is crucial for optimal recovery.
  • Empathy. Disruption that hits IT, especially in terms of natural disasters, may also have an impact on employees and their families in the homes. Counselling and psychological support may also be of vital importance.

Many of these points must be addressed when disaster recovery planning is being done. You won’t have time to figure them out when an IT disaster hits, so you’ll need to make sure they’re properly in place beforehand.

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