How’s your organization assuring business continuity among recent developments? Any recent success/horror stories?

Go to the profile of Jeff Hinds
Jeff Hinds on Mar 13, 2020 • 5 answer
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We have activated incident command center. We are planning for a surge in remote workers, so focused on equipment and tools needed for that scenario. We did see a degradation in service for Webex, Go To Meeting and zoom earlier this week but seems to have resolved. We are also rapidly expanding capability for virtual care. Organization has modified a number of HR policies and we have restricted travel.

Go to the profile of Deborah Gash
Deborah Gash on Mar 13, 2020
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Thanks Deborah! We're in the process of bringing the community business continuity experts for best-practice articles/webinars. Please let us know if there are specific companies/people that you would like to hear from on this topic.

Go to the profile of Jeff Hinds
Jeff Hinds on Mar 13, 2020
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Great question. We have a success story. We had been practicing various scenarios for the last 2 years. We had chosen to not practice unlikely situations for our area like earthquakes and pandemic, which was short-sighted in hindsight. Fortunately, our actions were taken from our playbook of practiced DR scenarios helped with pandemic response.

Isolation of staff was important. Our HR team did a terrific job of reducing travel, meetings, and gatherings upon short notice. @ThatSaraGoodman said on Twitter "I guess we’re about to find out which meetings could’ve been emails after all". We sure did. We, in IT, deployed instant messaging to a wider audience. Departments that were resisting instant messaging chose to use it without a fight. Many technical advancements that people were dragging their feet on suddenly became easy to deploy. Decisions began occurring through emails (and messaging) efficiently and quickly, which made us wonder why we had to wait for pandemic for that.

Our Legal department did a great job of educating partners of our actions and availability. Before schools, day-cares etc. would reduce hours or close, we dispatched team members to work from home. Bloomberg Technology article titled "Coronavirus Forces World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment" hit home. We had ample VPN licenses. What we didn't plan for was a gap in hardware distribution. We had limited VPN hardware. Cisco's warehouses were reporting depleted inventory. This is where our industry connections came handy. We had prepared for vendor management and disruption in supply-chain. Although we couldn't get a hold of our standard VPN hardware, we were able to procure high-end VPN hardware. Budgets/financial decisions were made in minutes.

We matured tech-savviness of our organization over the last few years. That helped staff adapt to technical changes rapidly. IT staff had strengthened their marketing skills over time and were able to explain staff what exactly to do. Our insurance claims related teams prepared for greater demand in claims related to coronavirus and reduced projects to focus on what mattered. I guess the situation taught us to be more focused on high-value projects, which we had been trying for years.

While we think we did well, we found several areas for improvement. We thought our IT inventory management skills were great. Come to find we were off in counts of every device. We didn't have updated procedures in case key individuals were unavailable and someone less familiar with a process had to follow procedures. These are just some of the many examples of improvement we have to consider.

EDIT
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Shawn asked some great questions:
1. What are you doing as far as remote work with these different work groups:
* Executives --> We are having execs work from home
* Back Office --> We have determined staff critical to operation. Only those staff members come to office for a period of time, do the backoffice work and then go home and work
* IT --> Same as backoffice. IT has been testing work from home for a while now. IT does most of the work remotely these days.
* Finance --> They work remotely also with occasional trip to the office to create checks and such
* Customer service (face to face) --> Zoom is being used more now

2. What are you doing re: paid time off? With the school’s shut down, how are you dealing with hourly employees who have young kids?
--> We have everyone capable of working at home. Those who cannot work while young kids are around take PTO. If staff had unused vacation in the past, it was moved to an emergency bucket. Staff can dip into that. We haven't come across complex situations yet.

3. What are you using for collaboration for remote workers?
--> Those who need company phone at home are given a VPN hardware (we use Cisco Z3, Z3C or MX-6x series). If they don't need a phone at home, they forward their work phone to their cell. They could use an IT-certified personal computer or take their laptop/desktop home along with their monitors. Those with laptops use Cisco AnyConnect to VPN in. Slack helps with chats. Our core systems have inter-staff notes capabilities that staff use to assign each other work, JIRA for help desk and development, BitBucket for software version control and such help us with remote work.

4. What other things are you doing?
--> We had phased approach to this situation. Phase 1: staff who can quickly head home without need too much support headed home first. Phase 2: staff who had phone requirements, regulatory requirements etc. went through technology assessment and then headed home. Phase 3: as of 3/16 we are in this phase where only critical staff will stay (or come) in office. All others work from home. Travel, gathering and meetings have been restricted.

Go to the profile of Chirag Shukla
Chirag Shukla on Mar 15, 2020
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Questions for the group:
 
1. What are you doing as far as remote work with these different work groups:
* Executives
* Back Office (Mail, Accounting, Payroll, HR, Legal, Receptionist & Incoming calls)
* IT
* Purchasing, production and warehouse workers
* Delivery drivers
* Point of sale
* Customer service (face to face)
* Others
 
2. What are you doing re: paid time off?  With the school’s shut down, how are you dealing with hourly employees who have young kids?
 
3. What are you using for collaboration for remote workers?

4. What other things are you doing?

Go to the profile of Shawn Paskevic
Shawn Paskevic on Mar 16, 2020
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To answer some of Shawn's questions:

1. What are you doing as far as remote work with these different work groups:
- Our outside sales staff has stopped making in-person visits unless requested by the customer. They are either working from the office or from home. If an employee travels out of the area they are asked to work from home if possible, we had guys at ConExpo last week that worked from home on Friday and came back in today. We don't have the capability of all employees to work from home, however those that can are allowed to.

2. What are you doing re: paid time off? With the school’s shut down, how are you dealing with hourly employees who have young kids?
- To take care of our employees we are encouraging those that don't feel well to stay home. They are to use their sick time first, then vacation. If those run out we will allow them to have a negative balance during this time. This applies to taking care of kids who have had school called off as well.

3. What are you using for collaboration for remote workers?
- We are able to forward those with direct phone numbers to their cell phones and we also use GoToMeeting where appropriate.

4. What other things are you doing?
- We have increased our cleaning and sanitizing routines. We are also educating on how to clean keyboards and mice and asking this be done regularly. Travel is being restricted for work purposes and if you have vacation that was scheduled & approved for overseas travel you are to take an extra 3 days paid at home before returning to the office. If it is a new vacation then they are not paid those 3 days unless they have vacation for them.

Thankfully our industry, construction, and our business (supplier/rental) doesn't require a lot of close contact between workers and customers.

Go to the profile of Scott Wittrock
Scott Wittrock on Mar 16, 2020
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