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Virtual meetings: the future of disaster recovery for businesses by Jocelyn Lomer, CEO nuVa Enterprises

Whilst disaster recovery isn’t a new concept for businesses, it’s often one that takes low priority for companies. Research shows that only 30% of businesses have a sufficient disaster recovery plan in place, in addition to 15% of organisations stating that they don’t think they need a plan at all. However, overlooking this critical business area can spell doom for those that are caught unprepared.

Most recently, the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need to be significantly more prepared for all eventualities that can affect companies. This includes having all or most of an organisation’s workforce working from home. The coronavirus has shown that many businesses were worryingly underprepared for a pandemic, or similar situations at that scale. According to Gartner research from March, only 12% of organisations were fully prepared for the impact of coronavirus, with further reports from April showing that only 8% of CFOs had factored a potential second wave of the virus into their planning scenarios for the rest of 2020.

Investing in a disaster recovery plan can be make or break for businesses. Like cybersecurity, it is quickly becoming a necessity for companies in today’s digital age. But what should businesses consider when creating a robust disaster recovery approach?

Building disaster recovery plans

All disaster recovery plans need to encompass three key areas: how employees will communicate, where they will work, and how they will keep working effectively. These details will differ depending on the size of the company and the way that it operates. Therefore, business and IT leaders need to work together to determine what type of plan is best for their business and establish concise processes for employees under such circumstances. It’s all about taking a broader approach to disaster recovery plans and building actions that are strong enough to deal with the unexpected.

With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, businesses are changing tactics from immediate crisis management to adjust their business strategies as the new normal becomes a reality. Business continuity plans will need to be adapted to include similar potential situations and be prepared to support staff no matter where they are working.

Introducing virtual meetings

Part of this involves utilising tools that enable virtual meetings to simulate face-to-face interactions, rather than just showing faces on a screen which can be slow, rigid and often unproductive. These media are now becoming available and their effect is to create a very wide ‘cognitive bandwidth’, close to that achieved by face to face meetings with artifacts, which is especially important during these unprecedented times and beyond. Combining people’s interaction and enabling thinking in an environment designed to recreate a ‘round table’ natural meeting will create a virtual space to work on complex tasks synchronously, allowing for improved team alignment and better productivity.

This is vital during the global pandemic as in-person interaction and collaboration is no longer possible. Working remotely under these circumstances means employees have to adapt to the current environment, battling a new set of distractions as well as experiencing an unprecedented merging of work and personal life. Frequently employees are left frustrated, stressed and exhausted from the limitations of asynchronous collaboration tools and the struggle to replicate the office environment virtually. Desktop collaboration has been great, but these media are inadequate to handle collaborations on complex tasks, with inefficient processes and inadequate spaces to work effectively. There is now an urgent need for tools that enable virtual meetings that simulate face-to-face interactions and unify the entire team, enabling them to better prepare for any situation that arises.

The developing virtual meeting media ensures employees are able to quickly adapt to working remotely in a way that will not affect business continuity. When using tools that mirror face-to-face, natural meetings, the team will benefit from increased flexibility which makes it easier for them to adapt in both the short and long term. They will start embracing change rather than fearing it and together can learn to turn these challenges into an opportunity.

Formulating one team

 The ideal vision of a team looks like cogs in a machine, working closely together. However, without effective communication and collaboration, this is not possible. By implementing virtual meetings, employees can be brought together to understand the project objectives, their role and how everyone will contribute to achieve results. Coordinating these goals leads to team-wide thinking and increased productivity for true alignment. Combining people’s interaction with a virtual space to work not only boosts productivity, but aids knowledge sharing and problem solving.

What’s more, these richer meeting environments allow employees to call on their colleagues for help and will have a better understanding of the processes and methods to streamline remedies. They also have the opportunity to brainstorm together and utilise each other’s capabilities to find a solution to the problem. These media also enable cross-team collaboration, bringing people together from various departments to combine their knowledge, experience and expertise.

At this stage, it’s also vital for businesses to provide their employees with the right skills and training to tackle crises head-on and implement disaster recovery plans efficiently. Employees should be made aware of their responsibilities, as well as the objectives of the plan to close any knowledge gaps or misunderstandings. The more training the team receives, the more confident they will be when performing their duties in the disaster recovery plan.

The future of disaster recovery

 In today’s digitally driven marketplace, the risk landscape in which businesses operate has become even more complex. The COVID-19 crisis has put a spotlight on disaster recovery plans and highlighted many company’s inadequate or incomplete processes. Looking ahead, organisations need to formulate a robust approach to planning, with a focus on communication and remote working. The biggest factor will be ensuring that employees are equipped with sufficient tools to remain productive and collaborate with others. By utilising virtual meeting tools, employees will experience benefits from increased team alignment and better productivity, to improved efficiency and quicker decision making.

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