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Cath Everett

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UK small business ‘not prepared for disruption’


Although the majority of UK small-to-medium enterprises suffered business disruption due to adverse weather conditions, health or transport issues last year, nearly a quarter had no contingency plans in place to deal with the situation.

According to a survey undertaken by telecoms provider Cable & Wireless Worldwide’s Demon Broadband, a huge 86% of respondents experienced problems because of bad weather, industrial action on the transport network or seasonal illnesses such as flu. Some 37% of the sample even indicated that the disruption caused by staff shortages was either significant or led to ‘total chaos’.
But some 23% of those questioned said that they had no contingency plans in place if employees were unable to get into the office, even though they could not work as a result. A further 12% said that personnel were only able to communicate with customers and each other by using their personal phones and email addresses.
Matt Cantwell, head of Demon, said: “With tube strikes, illness and more adverse weather on the cards, remote working is no longer a nice-to-have, but a necessity for many small businesses. Our research found that many SMEs are still behind the curve in terms of remote working technology, but it’s one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways of introducing a business continuity strategy.”
As a result, he recommended that SMEs take three key steps to address the issue. Firstly, they should review their requirements to understand which employees were critical to keep the business running and which documents and applications they would need to access remotely in order to do their job.
Secondly, they should devise a remote working policy based on easy-to-understand guidelines, including information on secure business practices, which must be communicated to all staff.
Finally, they should provide workers with appropriate technology in the shape of internet connections, mobile phones, email, corporate instant messaging and the like, which were subject to suitable security controls and policies.


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