The humble office desk has traditionally been the heartland of productivity, that safe haven where you knuckle down when it’s time to Get Things Done. With a bit of luck your desk is blessed with a comfortable chair and a nice view out the window, but don’t get too comfortable.
There’s no shortage of disaster scenarios threatening to separate you from your workplace. How would the business cope if you were left standing on the footpath?
The answer to that question obviously depends on the nature of your business and your specific job.
Rather than a desk your workday might revolve around the front counter, shop floor, server room or back-office warehouse. Your office might even be your dining room table. The question still stands – how could you keep the business running if your workplace was struck down by fire, flood, theft or something as simple as a power outage?
Sometimes your workplace can get caught up in other people’s disasters. It only takes one slip with a backhoe for workers to cut off the power or internet access for an entire city block.
Meanwhile if the building next door catches fire, the first thing the fire brigade is likely to do is drench your building in a torrent of water to stop the fire from spreading. If there’s a chemical spill at the factory down the road, or someone calls in a bomb threat in the business upstairs, you’re going to find yourself standing helpless on the other side of a police line.
They’re not the only threats. Anything from civil unrest, a public health scare or a transport strike might keep your staff away from work.
If you’re in retail then you might have no choice but to close the doors if disaster strikes. Yet if you’re in the growing services industry then it’s probably possible to work away from your desk – but only if you’re prepared.
Don’t wait until you’re standing in the street to discover that you need those important papers on your desk, or those precious files on your server. Don’t wait until you’re cut off from the office to realise that you can’t stay productive without remote access to the financial platform, customer relationship management system or something as simple as your office voicemail.
Big businesses can often afford to invest resources in a solid business continuity plan, including everything from diesel generators on the roof to emergency office space in another suburb. If you’re a small business then your best bet for keeping things running is a mobility program which grants staff remote access to the tools and services they need to keep essential services running while you get back on your feet.
If you’re in the services industry then you’ll probably want to focus on customer-facing services to minimise disruption. If your customers get burned by your lack of planning they might decide to take their business elsewhere – adding significantly to the total cost of your disaster.
Once your staff are equipped to work away from their desks, whether it’s at home or on the road, it opens up all kinds of possibilities from creating flexible working arrangements to empowering mobile sales teams. When you weigh up the potential impact of a disaster, as well as the potential productivity boost of a remote workforce, the decision to embrace mobility might be easy.
David Hancock is the founder and managing director of Geeks2U, a national on-site computer repair and support company.
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