We can’t stress enough that disaster recovery is more often about maintaining business as usual in the wake of a mundane outage, hardware failure or human error, rather than the more remote probability of a hurricane or flood of biblical proportions. But what happens if natural or man-made disruption — such as a gas leak, discovery of an unexploded WWII bomb or chemical spillage — actually compromises your business premises? Continuity of operations, or a lack thereof, affects the bottom line: your workforce grinds to a halt and your organization starts losing money.

Too much focus on tech, not on the people who use it

There’s a tendency to focus narrowly on systems and data recovery, or assume people can muddle through working from home or perched in a coffee shop. Everyone has a laptop and a smartphone, right? But communications failure is the number one cause of disruption in the workplace. And even amid today’s drive towards enterprise mobility and remote working, most employees still need a physical location where they can be productive, with access to phones, PCs, applications and the internet. Virtual Desktop technologies have their place, but critical staff can work more collaboratively and support each other more effectively in crisis mode as a team, rather than when isolated or dispersed. The truth is, as long as the majority of us still work together in offices, businesses need a work area recovery strategy to underpin the “available enterprise.”

But we have a spare office, don’t we…?

It’s easy to be complacent about office availability if you have a spare building designated for recovery — you’ve driven past it, it’s still there, so you surely have a water-tight plan? Not necessarily. It’s likely to be kitted out with outdated or non-standard tech that is no longer fit for purpose, which will create complexities and frustrate your speed of recovery. It’s not necessarily ready to use at a moment’s notice: you may discover someone has borrowed equipment for a one-off project and failed to return it, or the space has ended up being commandeered as a permanent venue. And with office space going for eye-watering rates per square foot in some cities, can you really justify hanging on to an empty facility?

How do you manage risk and avoid the guesswork and overheads of a back-up worksite, when you may have no idea how long you might be denied access to your premises? Worse still, if your business — like many — is looking to rationalize its estate in the interests of reducing overheads, suddenly all your redundant workspace will disappear. How do you manage risk and build the business case for a solution when you may have no idea how long you might be denied access to your premises in a real crisis? 

Workplace recovery solutions

Workplace recovery services are based on a dedicated, syndicated or shared model of providing an alternative bricks-and-mortar space for key staff, rented by the seat. The facilities are fully equipped with practically everything people need to get on with the job at hand: data processing capabilities, high-speed internet connectivity, networked PCs, desks, seating, telephony, even a kitchen and break-out areas. Not so much a home-away-from-home, but an office-away-from-the-office.

“Near” sites, within a mile or two of the operational facility enable rapid recovery from localized, small-scale incidents, while “far” sites can shelter a business from a major wide-area incident. Companies can even go one stage further by subscribing to a dedicated office: kept on standby for their business alone, for guaranteed availability, and internally configured to their specification. This is becoming a must-have for businesses with aggressive RTOs or security sensitivities, who want greater control over access, usage, equipment and even branding.

Work area recovery is rising up the board-level agenda as a means of genuine recovery activity, rather than a tick in a box, and a tangible, future-proof compliance measure against an evolving set of risks and requirements. Best of all, it’s a quick win that lets you remain focused on your primary objectives.