Why Risk Managers Are Suddenly Interested in Flexible Working

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When developing their business continuity plans, office managers, IT leads and risk teams now have a new weapon in their arsenal – flexible workspace

According to a recent global study by Regus, a staggering 73% of respondents claimed that flexible workspace solutions have helped mitigate risks that could threaten the flow of business operations.

As Joe Sullivan, Regus’ Managing Director of Workspace Recovery observes: “Flex space has become a preferred choice when companies establish or upgrade their business continuity plans.

“Today we no longer assume that all the bad stuff happens to someone else,” observes Sullivan. Indeed, according to the 2019 WEF Global Risks Report, “extreme weather events” were cited as the number one risk facing countries globally, followed closely by natural disasters, data fraud and cyber-attacks.

Businesses thinking differently about ‘disasters’

In 2018, there were over 2,000 enquires worldwide for Regus’ Workplace Recovery solutions. Sullivan puts that down to increased awareness that even apparently small incidents can severely disrupt business operations.

“A ‘disaster’ doesn’t have to mean a flash flood or a volcano erupting,” says Sullivan. “Some of the biggest challenges that our customers have faced are much closer to home and can have still significantly impact, such as:

  • smoke or fire damage
  • a burst pipe or water leak
  • a cyber attack

“With a workplace recovery solution set up in advance, there’s a much higher chance of walking away completely unharmed.”

Personalised plans

So how does a workspace recovery plan work?

There are three different approaches:

  • A permanent reservation – recovery workspace in a specific centre that is ideal for the core 5% of a business 
  • Ready in a day – recovery workspace in any Regus centre, recommended for 20% of the workforce and available within one business day
  • Emergency workspace for all – on-demand recovery workspace within two business days in any Regus centre

“There are two important points to remember here,” Sullivan says. “We craft bespoke solutions to meet each client’s budget and have an extensive, global network that gives companies choice and allows us to meet their core operational needs.

“Being able to recover operations in the same area as your current business or close to home is a big plus for customers, especially as our facilities are set up to receive clients and visitors from day one.”


Delivery without excuses

For the past three years, Regus has offered global retailer Marks & Spencer a recovery plan in which their staff have access to Regus centres worldwide if they are unable to use their regular offices due to interruptions like natural disaster, political turmoil or cyber-attacks.

In 2018, when a series of union protests in Cambodia broke out near to one of Marks & Spencer’s support offices, M&S relocated staff to secure offices in Regus centres where storage facilities and equipment had been set up in advance.

John Frost, Head of Business Continuity at M&S, says: “For us, turning to Regus for workplace recovery was part of our whole internal business shift towards being more agile. Our multiple-location approach fits the issues we face in the modern world.”

Essential for world-class operations

New Zealand-based Education Payroll approached Regus about a business continuity plan as it was restructuring to become a world-class payroll management company. Their end goal? Ensuring that the annual spend of $4.4 billion worth of teachers’ salaries were paid on time every fortnight without fail – even in the event of a crisis.

“Our plan allows us to set up in any of the fully serviced offices across New Zealand within 24 hours,” explains Arlene White, Chief Executive. “For that, we pay an annual fee to guarantee that we can fulfil our promise to professionals who depend on us for their salary.

“Local disasters do happen and if unprepared, businesses are just left to scramble around to get whatever operating space they can find – and at whatever cost.”

The Education Payroll arrangement gives the company operational security typically at one tenth of the cost of traditional recovery space.

And when the providers are put to the test?

Nobody is immune from disaster, as Joe Sullivan is quick to point out. “Regus is an award-winning provider that has a proven tracked record of offering support year on year, and yes – disaster has hit our own premises!”

As recently as September 2018, Regus faced its own emergency when Hurricane Florence impacted many of US centres in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

Kristi Bonner, Area Vice President in North Carolina explains: “The devastation from Hurricane Florence was felt by so many – colleagues, clients, their friends and family.

“True to the spirit of partnership, Regus teams throughout North America stepped in to lend support to those in the direct path of this disastrous storm. We recovered our facilities, our customers and were able to assist others.”

The bottom line

Given the obvious vulnerabilities of most IT systems and business operations in general, companies are waking up to the benefits of setting aside time and budget to craft the most basic of business continuity plans.

In the past, the choice of partner was limited to a provider with one fixed location. Now that flexible workspace providers have entered the scene, businesses can adopt a location recovery strategy anywhere and at any time. Put simply, if a company’s network is compromised, it can use the flex space supplier’s network instead, which in the case of Regus means 3,000 locations worldwide.

It is understandable then, that risk managers and business continuity leads are paying closer attention to their property portfolios than ever before, exploring how they can add flexible workspace into the mix.

Interested in using flexible workspace as part of your business continuity plan? Visit our Workplace Recovery page for more information.