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COVID-19 and the importance of disaster planning

As a short-term insurance broker, we know the importance of planning for a disaster: fires, floods, asset breakdowns, cyber breaches. Advice and product offerings for risk management is what we do best.

But did you ever think that you’d be in a situation where you’d have a building but not use it? Or that most of your workforce would shift to remote working, practically overnight? We have and had been preparing for the gradual and quickening shift to the digital future, along with the rest of the world. The COVID-19 epidemic simply accelerated the digital transformation to the top of the global priority list.

Money Marketing (2020) reports that, before the pandemic, only 25% of employees had flexible working arrangements. For some businesses, that increased to 100% a lot faster than they had planned for. So, if this is the ‘new normal’, businesses need to adapt – fast.

Here’s what we did at IntegriSure, to reduce risk, build resilience, and maintain optimal client service levels, and here’s how you can learn from our experience.

Have a plan.

We had a solid disaster recovery plan, in case the building burned down or an infrastructure hazard made the office inoperable. The guidance it offered proved crucial in ensuring 100% operational ability.

When disaster strikes, everyone should know what to do next and how to protect the business’s interests. Also, with teams scattered everywhere, cyber security should be top of mind.

Here are our top cyber security tips:

  • Notice the spelling of email addresses, subject lines, and email content.
  • Be wary of emails using urgent language or asking for confidential information.
  • Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails or text messages.
  • Don’t connect to the company network via unsecured public WiFi networks.

Test your plan.

The middle of a crisis is the worst time to test your disaster recovery plan. Fortunately, we have experimented with remote working for five years. So, when the COVID-19 epidemic hit, we had the technology in place; we just needed to mobilise our people.

Adapt your plan.

The biggest challenge in executing a disaster plan is logistics and the speed of implementing. Getting laptops, desktops, and connectivity set-up for teams at home is first priority.

Considerations when drafting your disaster response plan:

  1. How can you enable people to work from home without chunky hardware?
  2. It is possible to preserve your culture and relationships as you switch from face-to-face communication to video interactions through constant engagement campaigns.
  3. How will you handle disruptions to electricity and connectivity during working hours?
  4. A well-oiled IT-team is vital to offer remote IT support.
  5. How can you support your people who are dealing with disruptions at home, like children, dogs, and deliveries?
  6. How can you support your people who are dealing with the psychological stress of isolation and social distancing?
  7. How can you help your people to establish a work-from-home routine?

When you have a strong tech response plan in place, you can put more focus on empowering and engaging your people.

What worked for us?

Flexibility and balance. It’s important that we maintain a semblance of office life. We encourage our home-based teams to show up at the same time every day – preferably not in pyjamas and not from bed – and to stick to a typical workday structure that incorporates breaks and breathing time.

We all need time to adjust to the ‘new normal’. In the interim, if you need advice on risk management for your motor, home or business, get in touch.

IntegriSure is a short-term insurance FSP.

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For official Government information about COVID-19, please visit www.sacoronavirus.co.za.