Hong Kong continues to shine as one of the most vibrant and vital business hubs in the world, with a recent survey revealing that over 3,500 multinational corporates have their regional headquarters or key offices in the city. While corporates can enjoy the countless strategic benefits offered by Hong Kong, business leaders, however, cannot shy away from one important question: How resilient and flexible are their workplace contingency plans, in case a crisis arises?
Traditional workplace recovery strategies haven’t kept pace with modern business needs. Historically, the solution was to keep offices near a recovery server, to prepare for contingencies when a problem arises that could shut the office down. That’s the model the industry has followed – but it is a model which is redundant.
First, technology has evolved dramatically since most large businesses first developed a workplace recovery strategy. The rise in cloud computing means data can be accessed from anywhere. Recovery plans no longer need to be based entirely on the location of servers, but rather on what works best for your business at a particular time.
Second, recovering to one fixed location can be a logistical nightmare – if not ill-advised. Of course, if a small leak in an office has rendered it unusable, you can move staff to a specific back-up office. But imagine Hong Kong facing a severe typhoon or another equally significant impact event. Chances are your back-up location in the city will also be hit, or your people won’t be able to get there even if the building is accessible. Smart business needs to develop a workplace recovery strategy that is responsive, resilient and dynamic.
Third, the traditional financial model of making workplace recovery centers profitable revolves around oversubscribing each center – essentially selling the same “seat” to 10 or so different businesses. But if a major incident affecting large swathes of a city – chances are multiple companies will be impacted at the same time. Businesses therefore run the risk that at the one time they need the recovery seat they’ve been paying for, someone else may be sitting in it!
The old system was the best for the time when it was designed – the 1980s. But like so many industries, it is ready for a technology-driven disruption. Traditional workplace recovery providers are going to be hit hard and, in the end, replaced by dynamic providers.
What makes a dynamic workplace recovery provider?
A dynamic workplace recovery provider should be able to offer a network that can cater to global needs. When union protests broke out in Cambodia, it struck near one of British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer’s infrastructure support offices, and employees felt unsafe to go into work for two weeks. Given the risk to critical business functions managed by that location, such as paying employees and managing the supply chain, M&S relocated staff to work centers. M&S was immediately supported in secure offices, with 15 employees hosted while the protests continued. Wherever incidents happen, professional workplace recovery providers should be able to proactively contact the customer and adapt their plan in real time, by the minute, recovering them to another location that would not be affected.
In Hong Kong, we have seen a two-fold growth in terms of adoption on Workplace Recovery from all sectors including financial institutions, retail, software services, law firms, etc. In particular, the financial industry has come together for an exercise called WISE (Whole Industry Simulation Exercise), an opportunity for banks and insurance companies to jointly practice their response strategies to potential crisis situations where the whole industry is impacted. Businesses are already waking up to the fact that their workplace recovery plans may not be fit for purpose, and that a flexible, dynamic revolution is poised to sweep through the industry.
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