Work-from-Home and Laptop Policy and Procedures

This information is from my new book, The Ultimate Business Continuity Success Guide: How to Build Real-World Resilience and Unleash Exciting New Value Streams. Happily it is now Amazon’s #1 searched business continuity book. I hope you enjoy the chapter. and the book.

Business Continuity Tips, Techniques and Secrets

Work-from-Home and Laptop Policy and Procedures

Laptops and tablets have replaced desktops as the primary work tool for many employees. This can be a plus in building resilience. With a laptop or tablet and a good virtual private network (VPN), a large percentage of your organization can work securely from anywhere they can get an Internet connection and in some instances connectivity may not even be required.

Working from home can be a valuable part of a robust recovery strategy and in certain disasters is a must. We know people will be reluctant to leave their family during many types of events. There could even be the circumstance where your business is open but schools are closed and employees have no one to take care of their children.

Scenario 1 – your building is open but schools are closed policy:

A friend described this interesting scenario which occurred early in her career as a consultant. There was an early season ice storm in Connecticut. Schools were closed BUT the company’s facilities team did such a great job opening one of their major sites by flipping on the generator and clearing the parking lots. So, the building was officially open BUT they did not have a policy for allowing children to accompany their parents to work. Employees certainly could not leave their children home and HR could not give the local Connecticut management team a definitive answer as to whether employees could bring children to work. There was then the question if employees stayed home would they be charged for personal days?

Ultimately local management allowed employees to bring their children to the office and set up all kinds of entertainment and food for them. The employees were so grateful and indebted to the company for doing this.

The point is you should prepare for these types of situations by discussing them with your HR and Legal experts. I have experienced these types of questions arising during tabletops. Develop policies and procedures in advance. Create awareness with management and employees so they can properly prepare. This will eliminate confusion during a disaster.

Scenario 2 – organization issued laptop take home policy:

You may experience people leaving their laptops in the office rather than taking it home. They may leave it in a desk drawer or on the desktop. As we know, a disruptive event often happens outside of regular business hours. In that case people would not be able to work from home without their laptop.

I was advising a company a few years ago that faced this problem. Digging into the data we found the issue of not taking laptops home was more prevalent in urban environments, where they had to be ‘schlepped’ on mass transit as opposed to rural environments where they could be transported in the trunk of an employee’s car. In any event the organization had a continuity problem. Here are a few tips that can help. It is important to get the backing of management to make this work:

Tip – Develop a policy to the effect that when employees receive a corporate laptop and their primary recovery strategy is work-from-home, they must take their laptop home every night, unless they have a second corporate issued computer at home.

Tip – On occasion test employees by stationing your business continuity team at guard posts in the lobby to check if employees are bringing in their laptops in the morning or if they had left them in the office overnight.

Tip – Walk the office floors at night to see which employees left their laptops on their desks.

Tip – Instruct employees who have a legitimate reason they cannot transport their laptop home on a daily basis to speak with their manager. In some valid cases perhaps they can secure a second machine for home use or your company can create a sandbox virtual machine environment on their home computer so they could securely access corporate systems. If the person has a critical recovery role, purchasing a second machine for them may make sense.

Tip – During unannounced recovery exercises do not allow employees to go to into the office to retrieve their laptops. When word gets around about this, people will hopefully have more incentive to take their laptops home. Otherwise let them know they will be reported to management. People do not like being reported to management. Use ‘you will be reported to management’ whenever you really need something done when building your program.

In my experience these tips can help. Be consistent with your message and eventually a large majority of your organization’s company’s employees will take their laptops home every night. For the company I was advising, it paid off. They had to enact their recovery plans on several occasions and each time a great majority of the employees were able to work from home on their laptops.

I hope you enjoyed the information in this chapter. We go into a lot more detail in The Ultimate Continuity Success Guide. In fact, this is only one of 112 chapters packed with 1001 tips, techniques, ideas and those important lessons-learned. Have fun and please contact me with any questions!