Employee and Personal Impacts of a Disaster

Although recovering servers and IT applications is an important part of disaster recovery and business continuity planning, it’s also important to take into account the impact on employees of a disaster. A company’s systems may be vital if employees are to be able to work, but employees are also how a company communicates and continues to do business with its customers and suppliers.

Clearly communicating expectations beforehand to employees about how they will respond to major interruptions is a key element of coping with disasters. Ideally, a company’s employee handbook, position descriptions and procedures should make clear references to business continuity. Policies have to be made about how decisions will be taken if disaster strikes, by whom and how decision-making authority will cascade from one person to another, if required.

In addition, a disaster recovery or business continuity plan has to make it clear how employees will continue working and be productive if they no longer have access to their normal place of work. Customer facing employees may need access to resources, such as files and applications, on their PCs rather than within corporate systems. Solutions for remote access for this, if necessary, for virtual team collaboration and productivity for an indefinite period of time have to be factored into the DR plan.  If a company needs additional staff during this period, the remote working solution also needs to be able to scale to accommodate them.

Business interruptions, especially in the form of unforeseen disasters such as fire, flooding or pandemics, can in turn affect those close to employees, creating an extra source of stress and additional threats to productivity. Happy families make for productive workers and therefore this has an impact on how well a company does in handling a crisis. According to the circumstances, disaster recovery planning may also have to include financial support and counselling for employees whose families are also suffering the consequences.