What will the new normal look like following the Coronavirus Pandemic?
I have included two videos below:
- A webinar on how to return to business following this pandemic. In this webinar I am joined by Anthony McMahon from The IT Psychiatrist and Alastair Miller from NSP.
- My thoughts on what the new normal will look like following Coronavirus.
Feedback from BCP Builder Community on this topic – (this is the link to the original LinkedIn Post):
What will “the new normal” look like?
- I think our new normal will be an interesting combination of the past normal and our recently discovered “current normal”. It will therefore be dramatically different for many people and organisations. Some changes we will find hard to leave, others will be discarded as soon as possible. I am particularly interested in the future of businesses and organisations who struggle to measure success if their workforce is dispersed. From the work I have been doing lately, many office based workers struggle to measure their personal output/value/worth when its not measured by time at the workplace.
- There will be little going back to as was. The current situation has brought about changes to business and work life. This means that management will need to address what their new business model will be. Business Continuity and Risk Management will hopefully be given the respect it deserves.
- Health and Safety regulations may require a limit on the number of people allowed to be present at the office and provide daily reports on that.
- Contractors may be a pain to deal with (testing results requirements for Temporary vs Permanent contractors, Symptomatic vs Asymptomatic, etc.).
- Similarly to what happened with the release of GDPR, many optional requirements will become mandatory.
- Post-COVID-19 will trigger changes in quite a few things that will affect many areas. Rather than just Main-Site to DR-Site switchover testing, the Disaster Recovery Plan will also need to include regular work from home testing.
- We had this discussion the other day with a client about “the new normal”. I stated that new normals aren’t really new, but that we go through them on a regular basis. Our generational changes, however, are the ones we pay attention to, and this pandemic will be one of those generational moments. I asked someone this question, “Do any of you remember flying before 9/11”? How did things change in the airports after that incident? Now arriving 2 hours prior to departure is the norm.
- There will be a new normal; for lessons, we can glean from what happened post 9/11 twin tower tragedy and how that influenced business continuity management in general.
A/B Team Separation
- I would like to stay with the A/B team separation. Two reasons for this.
- First, and most important is my mental health. I enjoy working at home, but I also enjoy socializing with the people I work with.
- The second reason I would love to have the ability to meet with the teams I work with in the office.
- One week in the office for meetings and then one week at home (where it is much more quiet) to update recovery plans, etc. And keeping the A/B team posture also ensures the company is prepared for whatever comes next whether it is another pandemic, something physically happens at the office and people are injured, etc.
New Skills/ Sustainability
- There will be many opportunities to continue to use the new practices and skills people (have finally) learned. I’m especially interested to see how the sustainability sector fare coming out of this. The general population are seeing the Venice Canals clear, and more locally porpoises swimming in the river Parrett so they are witnessing the positive impacts of reducing pollution. I think this will further drive the work from home and reduced travel agendas.
A pandemic was expected
- Senior leaders in organisations will take Business Continuity far more seriously than they did prior to COVID-19. The excuse that they are just too busy to engage in the pertinent stakeholder meetings will not cut the mustard anymore. All aspects of Business Continuity, including planning, training, stress testing and exercising of Business Continuity Plans will be seen as a priority. These tests have not been regulated or required (like an annual evacuation drill for example). Many professionals in senior roles did not understand, nor even care to understand business continuity and organisational resilience strategies. The ‘it wont happen to us’ mentality has hopefully been eradicated now.
- Additionally to thinking “it won’t happen to us” there is also the practice of calling anything a “Black Swan” implying it couldn’t be planned for. An impacts-oriented all-hazards approach will be worthwhile planning going forward (as it has been in the past). Loss of “the big 4”: people, building, infrastructure (IT/apps), third party/supplier.
- A pandemic similar to COVID-19 was not unexpected. It has been on the radar for some time now, and impacts oriented planning vs scenario planning should be at the core of Business Continuity Planning. If we were to create individual specific scenario based plans (flu procedure, meningococcal procedure, electrical fire procedure, wild bear at door procedure etc), we would have a room full of superfluous documents that wouldn’t be read.
Business Continuity will be taken more seriously
- BCP’s should be written around ‘1. Loss of people’,. ‘2. Denial of access to site’, ‘3. Sustained IT or communications system failure’. Depending on the organization I might have a 4th such as with universities I include ‘loss of research’ or ‘loss of xx (product)’ which could be due to logistics, finance, mechanical failure (such as a production line failure). Perhaps if people understood that Business Continuity, IT Disaster Recovery and Crisis Management need to be looked at from a difference lens that would have been applicable say 15 years ago due to the volatile and uncertain environment that we are in?
- I think that Business Continuity Certification will be made mandatory by Insurance Companies and Banks.
- New norms will be defined and a greater appreciation will be had for business continuity planning. However, this scenario will have to be driven by business consultants to ensure that businesses (all sizes) can adhere to be compliant rather than experiencing massive fallout in the event of another crisis.
- Work area recovery centers (hotels where businesses can relocate following a disruption) will be a hard sell after this crisis ends.
- One assumption that goes out the door is far shore alternate sites and all those travel plans. We now need to look at enabling “work from where you are” rather than trying to travel. And this means a change in technology and support required. An architecture revamp could throw information and cyber security privacy into a bind. Never before have we needed to rethink our design principles. Lots of out of the box thinking is required.
- What an opportunity we have to design the future together. I have spent literally a lifetime planning, positioning, building capability (mine and others) for just such a time. Having spent decades in the disaster/emergency management business I have seen firsthand the difference it makes when people actually live the experience of a disaster – it changes what people truly value. We could start with renaming ‘business continuity’ to ‘service continuity’. This instantly changes how you think about the issue, particularly if your business owns critical risks in the systemic supply chain.
- There are so many opportunities to be the best we can be as a global community, as professionals and as family members and friends.
- I think there won’t be anything remotely like ‘normal’ again. We are all experiencing extreme turbulence and its here to stay. We need to think differently about fundamental business models, in addition to continuity. Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change (Brene’ Brown) and we are all extremely vulnerable – so let’s get creating.
Value of Preparedness
- Looking at history, are all of our recovery plans ready a second and third or more waves? New normal will require consortia based approaches to procurement and supply chain risk management across sectors to ensure understanding of dependencies. We can also anticipate investment in national capability for Personal Protective Equipment and testing as a strategic imperative. For Business Continuity practitioners the focus on near miss management and after action reviews will grow but only in organisations that have understood the value of preparedness rather than winging it.
- There will have been two camps in all this – those that had a Business Continuity plan and activated it, and those that didn’t have one, but had to make something up on the hoof which worked. Both camps will see something that they like in the new arrangements, and will keep them as we look for the new normal. I don’t think that the principals of Business Continuity will change. Despite any new arrangements, disruptions will still have to be planned for – however the risks may be different. Some businesses will be more resilient now than they were before it all started. I also expect the idea of “just in time management” of the business supply chain will need re thinking – maybe companies will carry a couple of months supplies in store. We have not heard the last of Zoonotic diseases.
- Regrettably part of me thinks the new normal will be evolutionary, as opposed to revolutionary. As businesses, we have the opportunity to learn so much about work practices, risk management, personal, operational and organizational resilience as well as business continuity. I’m just not sure that organizational practices will change dramatically as a result of the Pandemic. What we have seen is the fragility of global supply networks, and the range of risk perception among both experts and lay people. Look at the differences in responses across the world to the pandemic, speed of response, and the ability to mobilize just in time providers of things like Personal Protective Equipment. In the UK due to suppliers being domiciled in China, I don’t see organizations moving back to holding a surplus of supplies ‘just in case’. Hopefully we will see learning around the importance of having suppliers in different regions. In the UK many people’s homes don’t have the space for home working on a regular/ permanent basis. The logistics of fixing issues like that for those that could work from home, and the impact on long leases and freeholds will be interesting. There could be a rise in telecoms stock, managed offices etc.
- I’m more of a mathematician than a process-person. Stock-markets and business market-places are chaotic systems. In short: small changes can affect much bigger changes. There is a branch of business continuity called Chaos Engineering that tries to model random failures across whatever supply-chains/ servers/ information flows inside organizations and build resilience that way. However, in this unprecedented situation, the initial conditions which affect everything will have dramatically changed (i.e. major disruptions in our supply chains, changes consumer behavior, changes in society itself). We will need to be prepared to re-start/ adapt our business fast with new information flows and behaviors as our previous approaches might no longer work. Luckily, we are all in the same boat and learning all at the same time. I think approaching this problem with solidarity, understanding, and kindness across the board will go a long way to restart and better cope with this jolt.
- The new normal will focus on digital solutions that ensure all stakeholders can collaborate in real time in secure cloud server environments.
Work From Home
- There indeed is going to be the “new normal”. Business Continuity plans will be reviewed and updated. Work from home is going to be the key aspect in my view. The viewpoint of management teams will also have to be changed towards working from home. We will also need to look at the feasibility of working from home for those businesses/ activities where before this incident it was not considered possible. This will surely change. A few learnings to consider:
- 1) Importance of social distancing in office premises, while still remaining connected.
- 2) what action to take if staff are sick.
- 3) Infrastructure requirements.
- 4) actions required for front offices e.g. direct customer facing places/ locations
- …and more use of working home and less driving should undoubtedly make us more productive!
- I think a lot of things will change in terms of risk management, one of traditional pre-requisites for Business Continuity. Risk is the product of likelihood by impact. The likelihood needs to be estimated differently or even not taken into consideration at all.
If you want to increase your Organizational Resilience, start with preparing a Business Continuity Plan and check out BCP Builder’s Business Continuity Planning Templates.