Return to the workplace: 4 steps to ensure business resilience

Return to the workplace

We’re beginning to see light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, and companies are rolling out their plans to return to the workplace. For those of us in business resilience (aka business continuity, incident management, or crisis management), it’s game on. However, the game has changed.

Business resilience has traditionally been operationally focused—on site security, utilities, fire safety, natural disasters, and the like. In a post-COVID world, resilience is personal. Anyone who enters our doors and becomes infected could trigger a potential crisis. Resiliency plans must address that scenario.

Return to the workplace is about far more than getting butts in seats (frankly, the easy part). It’s about helping to ensure the safety of everyone in the entire ecosystem. To do that, we must up-level our resilience programs, because future risks are likely to be at least as complex and disruptive as in 2020.

There’s another, equally important reason to embrace resilience: The future of work itself is being reimagined. Nobody fully knows what it will look like. We have the opportunity—and the mandate—to help shape that future.

Let me offer four steps business resilience teams can take to help enable a successful return to work in 2021 and beyond:

1. Build a culture of resilience

Most return-to-the-workplace efforts will be focused on people and places and heavily driven by the human resources, workplace, and/or strategy organizations. To be a trusted partner for the business, be sure to engage all functions in the process.

Establishing a culture of resilience will support an organic transition from crisis response mode to strategy mode and create a resilience framework for the future of work.

It’s also critical that we integrate what we’ve learned from the pandemic into our culture of resilience. One of the biggest lessons at ServiceNow is that if you digitize your workflows—as we have using our Now Platform®—location clustering isn’t required for individual productivity or operational efficiency. This insight gives us more options as we map out what work will look like post-COVID-19.

Distributed work + digital workflows = increased resilience

2. Increase program visibility

When a resilience program is working as intended, nobody knows about it. On one level that’s how it should be. But be sure your leadership knows how your program supports the return to work, and how you’ll provide continuous resilience support going forward. Active leadership support is essential, both operationally and culturally.

The best way to keep senior leadership up to date is through dashboards that let them see the state of response for any future event and health of the program. These dashboards can be easily built on top of a business continuity tool such as ServiceNow® Business Continuity Management (BCM), where you house all your program-related details.

3. Assure your employees, customers, and vendors

Unlike personal safety guidelines, employee outreach needs to be very high-touch. Regular updates, safety protocols, and resources are essential for providing peace of mind and a productive work environment. At ServiceNow, we use the Now Platform and Now Mobile app to facilitate outreach and information sharing.

Providing seamless service to customers is a must—not just to fulfil contractual obligations, but also to build relationships based on trust. After all, as we’re working toward our own business continuity, our customers are doing the same and need to understand our resilience posture.

Vendors, too, need to be comfortable with our plans, just as we need to understand theirs.

4. Digitize your program

Digitizing program workflows will provide the speed, agility, and real-time visibility needed to respond quickly when crises occur. Digitization will also enable your program to scale with company growth.

There’s another key benefit: mobility. When a disruptive event occurs, you may not be near your plans or tools. A mobile app gives you access from any location and virtually any device. As noted above, we’re taking full advantage of mobility in our outreach to employees before, during, and after return to the workplace.

And remember this formula in your post-pandemic workforce planning: distributed work + digitized workflows = increased productivity, efficiency, and resilience.

Business Continuity Management (BCM) supports the future of work with resiliency; visibility; employee, customer, and vendor assurance; and digitized workflows.

Keep learning

As the saying goes: Never let a good crisis go to waste. Whether it’s a pandemic, an office closure, or another event, there are things to be learned that can improve the responsiveness and effectiveness of your resiliency program.

For example, the pandemic taught us that if you digitize your workflows, where employees are located doesn’t impact their productivity—and we can factor that into our future decisions.

At ServiceNow, that also means incorporating new technologies and tools. Risks don’t stand still; neither should we. We expect to migrate to our new Business Continuity Management app in Q3 of this year, and we look forward to the added capabilities it will bring.

Resilience must be a priority, not an afterthought. If we can create a culture of resilience, build resiliency into all we do, and digitize workflows for speed and scale, we won’t just be optimally prepared. We’ll also help shape the future of work.

Watch our webinar to learn how ServiceNow is ensuring its own safe return to the workplace.

ServiceNow, the ServiceNow logo, Now, and other ServiceNow marks are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of ServiceNow, Inc. in the United States and/or other countries.


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