In part 1 of this series, we covered activities associated with damage assessment and accounting for personnel. Two of the key decisions based on these activities are, “How and where do we get back to business?” Based on the scenario outlined in the previous installment, the Incident Management Team (IMT) chose to remain in the existing building and execute a phased, or staggered, return to work plan.
The first decision to be made when executing a Phased Return to Work plan is to determine what can be recovered and what office space is available. For the company in this story, this was accomplished by contracting with vendors to provide expertise and manpower, as local personnel were impacted and working on their own personal recovery. The company’s Incident Management Team (IMT) was responsible for managing these vendors. When outsourcing, it’s best to have these vendors selected ahead of time and to contact them before impact, if possible. Some vendors to consider:
After all vendors were in place, the IMT created a task force with the goal of coordinating the company’s key processes with business management and facilities. This started with looking into recent business impact analysis and department business continuity plans. The task force took into account the time of year, available space, and resources at hand to establish a return schedule. Two messages were created to communicate the schedule; one to the overall organization and one to those being asked to report to work.
Clean-up efforts continue at our downtown office and progress is being made, however the building remains closed to normal business. Your IMT has identified alternate work locations within the building for up to 50 employees. These employees will be contacted by the IMT with further instructions. If you are not contacted, then you are not to report to work.
If you were directly impacted by the hurricane and are in immediate need of assistance, please contact the IMT at 555-1212.
This message is from your IMT. We are slowly resuming business at our downtown office and you’ve been identified by your department leadership as a business critical employee. Is it possible for you to return to work in the downtown office tomorrow morning?
If so, please report to the check-in table in the lobby for more information.
Please contact the IMT at 555-1212 with any questions or if you are unable to return to work.
In addition to establishing priorities, the task force coordinated volunteers, comprised of the company’s Floor Warden Team as well as representatives from HR, Security and Safety. These volunteers, known as the Welcome Team, were tasked with helping to ease the business critical employees back into the workplace. With the likelihood that most or all employees have been impacted, it’s important to be aware that returning to an unfamiliar or damaged place can be traumatic. To recognize this, the Welcome Team set up a safe room for returning staff to use if they felt overwhelmed. In addition, a concierge was assigned to each working floor to serve as a point of contact for staff in a disrupted business environment. The concierge did things from making an IT request to returning personal effects from the above mentioned storage.
Over the course of 3 days, additional business critical employees were brought back to work with the full workforce in place by day four (albeit many in alternate work locations). Conference rooms were filled with cubicles and office occupancy doubled or tripled. Reconstruction of the damaged floors and offices continued for another several weeks, after which time, everyone was able to return to their original offices.
This is one phase of recovery that cannot be completely anticipated. Preparation must focus on a current Business Impact Analysis, as well as a trained and practiced Incident Management Team. In the case of a situation similar to the above scenario, here are some preparation tips to consider:
In our final article, we’ll take a look at what’s involved when a company must find a completely different work location due to the complete loss of their place of business.