Friday, 14 November 2014

Work Area Recovery Part 2 – The Human Element of WAR

I recently shared some thoughts on my very first Work Area Recovery Test. I tried to explain (to the best of my knowledge) the different types of jargon being used and what to expect if you were yet to have this experience. On this occasion I was delighted to discover that many seasoned professionals were ready and willing to contribute via the LinkedIn Group. I felt like this was a real turning point in my blogging adventure. More experienced individuals were adding commenting on WAR arrangements, kindly explaining confusing terms, pointing out where I might be wrong on one or two things. It certainly helped to develop the junior professional knowledge-base and was EXACTLY the reason why I set up this platform up in the first place so thank you kindly for such input ladies and gents!

Anyway, I walked away from that very first test thinking I would be much better placed to go through the experience again. I mean why wouldn’t I? Surely by now I would have a pretty good idea of what to expect at the next one? I’m much more familiar with the IT terminology now and also some of the challenges I might face.

I couldn’t have been more wrong…

My next experience of WAR testing was entirely different. I was at a different site, testing a different part of the business with different IT needs. I was being supported by a completely different set of engineers from our providers and since the last test, many of the internal technical employees who were responsible for the configurations in the first place had now also moved on as well. In many ways it really did feel like starting again from scratch. Nevertheless the test was successful and I feel like I’ve learned even more but perhaps more from a human nature perspective rather than technical and that’s why I’m writing this piece.

At the planning stage of this particular test I mistakenly viewed the human element as just another part of the process. I assumed that in many organisations where time is money, critical employees would be rushing to the WAR site as soon as their PCs went down meaning they would need very little prompting. It wasn’t however until I noticed several missing departments on the pre-arranged transport that day that I began to realise the possible human challenges we could end up facing.

It turns out these departments had taken it upon themselves to make their own way but failed to tell anyone in the process. This was the first of many examples which prompted me to share this additional piece on WAR.

Here are my Top 3 obvious yet unanticipated questions that I encountered from staff during this particular experience that I think all professionals should be aware of when planning their very own WAR site rehearsals/tests.

Will all of my department be moved to the site?

You might find in your own planning that only certain departments will be required to relocate first. These are the teams that are likely to move across straight away otherwise it might involve a significant business impact. Most employees will naturally assume when the lights go out or when their main entrance is cordoned off that they will be immediately relocated. This isn’t necessarily the case. They might be moved in a few days depending on how critical they are or perhaps not even at all if the business recovers soon enough.

If I’m not moved do I get paid annual leave?

The most appealing idea I’ve found most employees explore is the prospect of additional leave been taken if they aren’t being relocated. They start to ask about paid leave, time off in lieu, flexi-hours, new shifts etc.

Where do the non-essential employees (assuming they know that they’re non-essential) go during a business disruption? It’s all well and good sending the key people on the bus you could be left with a major part of your workforce waiting to be told what to do. In my experience, their default understanding is to assume it’s free annual leave and go home.

Am I expected to exclude my new travel time from my normal working hours?

WAR sites are typically situated in a geographically separate area to avoid being impacted by the same hazard. This usually means some additional travel time to the new sites. I’ve found that employees, once aware of this, want to understand how this will affect their working hours, if so by how much and if they get paid for more this inconvenience.

There are other questions such as:

• Is there a canteen available on site?
• How long is this likely to go on for?
• How will I get there?

These are less frequent but important questions to consider nonetheless.

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