COVID-19 | Disaster recovery and emergency planning

COVID-19 | Disaster recovery and emergency planning

Many businesses will already have risk and business continuity plans in place to deal with crises, but some may not – either way, no one had ever imagined a crisis like the one we find ourselves in now. Business leaders have had to ensure appropriate measures (compliant and practical) are in place to remain functional, and their people are required to quickly adapt to new ways of working.

This webinar explores the practical and pragmatic steps leadership teams can take to ensure implementation is as smooth as possible through responsibility and quick decision making. We’ll also provide guidance on supporting people during this very traumatic and stressful time, whilst they adapt to working in a non-traditional working environment.

Further information on how to manage the impact of coronavirus can also be found on our coronavirus resource hub and you can view past webinars at SHMA®ON DEMAND.

Please do let us know of future topics that you are interested in, or for more information about our webinars please contact us.

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Webinar transcript

(Please note this is auto-generated and un-edited)

Hi everybody. I'm David Pendle Associate Director in the Marrons planning team here at Shakespeare Martineau. Welcome to today's webinar on disaster recovery and emergency planning. This is part of our coronavirus webinar series, you'll see on your screen that you're able to ask as qas. So, please do so along the way and I'll answer as many as I can. We'll also share a summary of questions with everyone after the webinar. What we're going to do today is have a conversation about the impact the restrictions of had on our working lives Disaster Recovery an emergency planning isn't new.
That's been there for a long time ordinarily. It's used by organizations for things like fires or floods or more mild things like computers going down and serve as being broken and we ask ourselves the question. How do we carry on working? Obviously what we've got here today is something quite different and it's actually changing all the time as well. Although it seems to have settled down over the last few days and we're all now trying to get into the stride of social distancing and self-isolation, but there are huge questions around what's happening with the economy and how we're going to make projects work.
So what we're going to do today rather than have a look at things like have we all got a laptop is we're going to have a look at what the impact has been on us and what we can do ourselves either individually or as part of a team to try and make work work.
So a little bit more about people rather than about sort of physical environments as such and then once we've done that we're going to have a conversation based on my experience of Disaster Recovery. I was part of Melton Borough Council when they had their fire in 2008 and Disaster Recovery went into into overdrive to try and recover us and get us up back and running and running services for the public. So we'll have a look at my experience and I'll share with you what I saw being put into practice by the most successful people and the most successful teams and then the end will talk about key lessons and perhaps some things that we can all bear in mind.
To try and help us carry on working. So when disaster strikes what happens? Well, we know that the working environment is changed certainly at the moment. What we've got is most of us are working out of our homes and indeed. I'm doing this now from from my home many of you are probably listening at home. So we're not in the office. That means that we don't have access to a paper files. We haven't got access to teammates. I'm certainly not in the same way.
We aren't having the same casual conversations in the office the way that we interact with people that we're working on projects with whether that's clients or colleagues who are on the product side as fundamentally changed and what happens when we have a situation like this either an emergency or a disaster is that there's a huge potential for the to be confusion and four barriers to come into play to stop us from doing work.
So what that means in summary is that we With increased project risk clearly. The moment is a number of projects that aren't going forwards. But the ones that are trying to go forwards facing huge barriers to try and overcome either. We're unable to talk to each other or regulatory processes are happening people are being being worried about cash flow understandably. And so with those confusion and barriers that we've got it makes it makes projects very very difficult. And even though we can recognize we've got this changed working environment.
We've also got at the moment particularly with coronavirus in the way things have changed almost daily over the last 10 days or so. It's a changed working environment and a changing work environment. So it's changing all the time.
So in terms of what we do well firstly and it sounds obvious to say you'll see on the slide in front of you accept the situation not wishing to be to be pigheaded about that. But trying to say actually, you know kind of make sense of this and what's going on.
How can I work and all those things are perfectly perfectly normal, but human beings were risk-averse we look at risk and we try and avoid it what we've got here is a series of risks that are almost almost unavoidable so Watching the situation that we're in the fact that we've got to work. This way is absolutely key and it's going to be key for part of the the sort of practices that we'll talk about later and the key lessons for how we move forwards in the current situation notwithstanding that were in the situation. Some things are in our control. Some things aren't many of us can't affect the circumstances that surround us we can't go into the office.
We can't have conversations with clients or Organizations that have shut down there are you know a number of things that we can't do so trying to understand what we can effect is really really important. And obviously what we're going to do today is have a conversation about some of the things that we can do in terms of our thought processes and how we interact with others. So recognizing your options around that's really important. We know that there are a number of different ways in particular of contacting people different media, and there's a number of ways of working at home on your laptop.
Not all of us have got offices. For example, not all of us have got access to the different files that we need. So trying to understand what options are available to us to work is really important and that might be reaching out to others and asking them for something asking them some help or asking them for them for a copy of a file or something that you've not got because it's back to your office now again, simple things but just understanding what you can control and what your options are to try and move that forward is really important and having done that choose a Way Forward.
So actually decide what you're going to do and then take action. Now these things are sort of a series but they're all quite different things. So accepting the situation understanding what you can do about it choosing to do something but then really importantly taking action after all action is is what work is, you know, that's what we do. I mean if we can't take action then will not move any of our projects forward all of those things really are about how we manage ourselves and how we how we lead our own work and this isn't intended to be sort of hole.
There were patronising but leadership and communication become really important and it isn't just for managers and it's not just for organizations. That's about all those individually and what we do on a day-to-day basis. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, that's more than just about laptops or apps and that sort of thing that we're all struggling with. We need to try and understand when we work where we work and how we work a lot of us are working silly hours all over the place fragmented as we're trying to juggle.
Oil responsibilities at home with homeschooling of children or we might have clients who are working disjointed hours later in the evening that there any available then so when we work has become really important where we Works important not everyone's got a home office some people working at a bedroom. Some people are working off their sofa some of those are working in sheds.
So so where we work as fundamentally changed as well and clearly as we as we've been mentioning how we work as Changed as well. And in that sense, we aren't together. We're not face-to-face. So communication has become really important. If we're not doing things face to face, you know, we probably many of us heard, you know, something like 70% of communication is lost when you're not actually face to face with someone you can't pick up on their tone you might do on the phone, but you wouldn't do an email for example can't pick up on body language. So Communications become become difficult and for that reason more important than ever.
So actually reaching out to your audience and understanding what they need from you when has become really important and choosing how you do that as become important, but most importantly perhaps of all is is actually taking the time to communicate tell people around you what you've got going on and share with them what's happening. So just to run through those things, you know sort of an in Practice series and you'll see six points on the slide in front of you taking personal responsibility for that for this stuff, you know, it is essential.
I've had colleagues in the past and probably been guilty of that myself sitting there and saying actually I need to wait for my organization to tell me what to do fact is that most of us work particularly our Institute from the keyboard and we work on a phone we can still do those things. It's the face-to-face that stopped and stopped but if we take personal responsibility, except the situation that we're in as I mentioned earlier identify that way forward and make Swift decisions about those things then that will put us on a really really sound footing.
NG crucially having done that we need to implement whatever it is that we're trying to work on. So it's the actual Act of sending that email making that phone call reaching out to that person that we need to liaise with on a project that that is essential here.
Really that's what makes projects happen, you know, if we sit and worry about the situation and we feel unable to identify Way Forward then obviously having conversations with colleagues and Friends helps, but crucially if we find a soft stagnate In those things, then we won't be moving forwards. So the idea really is to 2 to get to number 5 as swiftly as possible and as little bit of Art of War in this that if you stand still you, you know, you you fail so getting through that 1 to 4 into 5 V Square The Works up that's where projects happening is something that we all need to find a way to do having done that we find ourselves.
Sometimes at number six, which is really about what happens when When it doesn't work, and it's still not working. Well being adaptable is crucial and if we manage to do first five and overcome some of the barriers in front of us in these circumstances, then then that helps if we can then be agile when things don't perhaps go as well as they might do that's really good, you know, get yourself back to number one and back through to number 5 as swiftly as possible.
So the key lessons from this and I'll just touch briefly now on my experience of having rattle rattle through that when the Mountain Fire happened we found ourselves and particularly my my my service which was about town planning. It wasn't it wasn't essential. It wasn't necessary to get that back up and running first. And in fact, we were quite far down the list. So as a team we sat down and said, well no one's going to do this for us. So what do we do? And we decided that we were in it together.
We were going to find a way to To get through this we want to make that choice and we weren't going to wait for anyone else to to either instructors or tell us how we want to work at the time.
I had a leader and I've stolen this unashamedly who was firmly the P / many of the view the that you had doers and don't as people who do things and people who don't either through choice or through an activity and their view was those that can Will and those that can't won't And again, you know seems Common Sense, really and again Demi to Patra not be patronizing about but if you're of a mind set that you want to achieve, you know, your targets or your project or whatever it is and you decide that you can find a way to do that.
That's a great starting place to be in and having done those things and you've worked out what works for you share it, you know tell people what you're up to, you know communicate with them again, whether that's people above you people around you whether it's people people beneath you if you were a leader or a manager Make those things happen and share it and you'll see the last bullet point there don't stand still, you know, the moment that you think you've cracked it. It'll probably particularly in the sock current circumstances. It'll change change again. So so, you know again being agile and learning to adapt around this stuff is really important.
What I'm going to do now having just run through that and I appreciate a lot of that is sort of theory around mindset is it is just pick up another questions. So thank you for listening to that and I've been asked a question which basically says that's all Jolly interesting sort of what was your experience? So I mentioned part way through about the the Melton fire that happened in 2008 where we lost our offices. I think that happened on a Friday morning from from memory.
which is all a bit of a shock fortunately, no one was harmed but it did mean the loss of all of our electronic kit all of our paper files and I found myself on the Monday morning facing the prospect of being the bottom of all the local Authority services to be put back up and running quite simply things like bins and helping vulnerable people were far more important and you know agreeably so so we sat there as a team we started to notice around us that the realist Services who are getting on and within our group, you know, we had the usual concern usual worry people saying, you know, how on Earth we're going to manage this. It's all gone wrong. This is really difficult and again perfectly natural natural position to find ourselves in and we sat down collectively said, you know, we're going to find a way to do this and I'm going to find a way to do it before anybody else comes and tells us how to do it. First of all to lighten the load on them.
But second of all because we want to do well and we want to excel So what we did is we found a way through it. So on the Monday morning, we found ourselves obviously making phone calls to people that we were working with on projects trust them for copies of things. We found ourselves scrabbling around for with personal laptops and trying to get access to two files online that we shared with organ or other organizations.
We were talking to each other on the phone, you know, this was a little bit before things like video conferencing we're huge, but you know, there's a lot of phone calls on our Two teammates and two colleagues elsewhere meeting other people's offices working in cafes working in libraries many of those things can't happen. Now, of course, but the fundamental thing was that we decided that we would find a way and it really worked for us. So so my experience and from that as probably probably impacted on my my working life ever since, you know, we Face problems all the time.
And the question is what do we do about them and trying to find a Vision and trying to find a way forward is I have found absolutely essential and sometimes we can't do that alone often. It takes teamwork. So listening to people around you talking to the people around you sharing left right and center and trying to find a way forward becomes huge and really important. So that was my experience and my experience as I sat out. I think it was on the slide 7 was that those steps that Iran through and that's how that's how we managed to.
Action, it's actually how we manage to function well in my view and as I say those steps have stayed with me for a really long time. I've got a second question here, which effectively says, what do you do? You know all very well and good what you do if you if you've got very little control over your work or your projects. Now this this is a difficult one particularly in the current circumstances, you know, we're all working with people, you know, including ourselves in many cases, where work.
Been fundamentally altered, you know projects are either slowing down or stopping and the question is, you know, really? What do we do? And what do we do to keep on moving forwards with with work wherever possible either developing a projects or finding new practices new working practices that work for us to help move projects forward.
Well, you know, as I said earlier, I found myself in a situation where I was working with an organization where quite honestly resources were being directed elsewhere to make those functions and services work and town planning as interesting and as enjoyable as it is found itself quite low down the list and nobody was going to come in and solve that for us swiftly now clearly we were still working within an organization, you know under a under a corporate plan with a set of values and with a set of objectives that have been set for us.
So the question was what if those things mean for us and how are we going to achieve them we In isolation, you know, we worked out what we did have control over where we felt we didn't have control we were asking for it. And so, you know, if you're you know, if the people above you your senior leadership team or your colleagues who are in control of projects have their attention directed elsewhere or if they've made decisions which which are proving difficult for you to manage ask the question, you know communicate with them. Tell them.
What you what you think you can do tell them what you think you you can do to move the project forward or to make your service or function operate in an appropriate manner, you know that that's really what we were talking about around communication. Not not necessarily sitting there thinking. Well, actually I'm stuck or stymied I can't do anything, you know, so so communication, you know, it works upwards and work sideways Works downwards talk to the people around you and find a way to make these things work.
So if you do find So from sitting there thinking actually there's nothing I can do and obviously that that might happen but perhaps just focusing on the things that you you can change as we said in one of the earlier slides might be a really good starting point for you and sit and have a think about about how this how this works and how it could change.
Thanks for those questions. I'll make a follow up on on the other questions after the session and share these with you. Obviously. I hope you interest you're interested in that and you know find it helpful. I appreciate that.
It's not necessary that tangible sitting here on a screen listening to a sort of my experience and the lessons I learned about how to work how to sort of move forward somehow when disaster strikes there is further advice and guidance on coronavirus and the way That we're trying to work and try to move forward in this advice from Whole host of people at Shakespeare Martineau on a variety of topics. So please contact our dedicated resource Hub at shma.co.uk. That's shma.co.uk-- if you'd like further information or to have a discussion about a specific query and you'd like to get to this like to discuss something in more detail, please get in touch with me.
My contact details are attached to this webinar and in the Meantime. Thank you for listening, and I hope you all have a good day. Thank you.

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