Though most businesses have alevel of preparedness training in place, it's safe to say no oneevent has challenged the effectiveness of preparedness plans acrossthe globe like the onset of COVID-19.

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During this pandemic, the necessity of workingremotely has been become a reality for many workers and theorganizations that employ them. These realities underscore thevalue of being prepared and embracing different approaches tointernal processes and protocol that could pay dividends in timesof crisis.

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This has been the case at West Bend Mutual Insurance, whereaccommodating flexible work schedules helped pave the way for asmooth transition amid workplace changes forced by COVID-19. Thefollowing are some approaches to consider for current times and anyfuture crises that could impact the industry or individual workersin the future.

Practicing processes

Working remotely can be considered a perk for some or anecessity in other cases. Regardless of the underlying intention,there is a value to being prepared by having all, or a goodportion, of an organization's workforce comfortable with workingremotely. Even before COVID-19, West Bend had workers assigned tourgent processes working remotely at least once a quarter tomaintain familiarity with working from home and any challengespresented.

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Also: Many small businesses still optimistic about areturn to normal in 2020

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Transitioning to a remote workplace during a non-emergencysituation helps identify challenges both individuals and the entireorganization may face, making it easier to develop solutions andwork through challenges in non-crisis times so remote operationsare running smoothly when it really matters.

Technological considerations

In times like these, organizations tend to appreciate ITprofessionals more than ever. Technological literacy can varygreatly across a team, and during the transition to virtualmeetings and online programs, some people may need help navigatingnew processes. Anticipating hurdles, organizations may want toconsider regularly publishing a technology FAQ page to help teammembers answer their own questions and help ease the demand forreal-time IT support when the majority of a workforce is workingremotely.

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Additionally, utilizing softphone technology makes it possibleto conduct telephone calls through the internet, using the computerrather than a physical phone. This allows for greater flexibilityand more efficient use of a home workspace and minimizestechnological difficulties trying to set up office phones athome.

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Basic literacy in common communication platforms, like Skype andZoom, is helpful for internal communication among coworkers, aswell as for certain customer needs. This could include providingworkers, and, as appropriate, customers, brief tutorial guidelineson how to use different communications platforms.

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Technology is not infallible. Lack of reliable internetconnectivity or inadequate bandwidth is a common challenge that canaffect employees working remotely. It's important to be prepared totroubleshoot and activate an alternate plan for individualsstruggling with a reliable connection.

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Some tasks, such as those involving physical assets, cannot bedone from home. By identifying these processes quickly,organizations can seamlessly develop a way to carry out thosenecessary duties while maintaining safe and health-consciouspractices.

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Related: Remote workers face new and emergingrisks

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While planning for a global pandemic may have seemed to be afar-fetched scenario prior to 2020, the current reality proves thatorganizations should be prepared for low-probability situations.Anticipating challenges and changes that could affect yourorganization is crucial to succeeding in the face of any adversity.Investing in efforts to support remote-work capabilities andimplementing long-term preparedness training will help anyorganization with its ability to anticipate and stay ahead ofchallenges that can disrupt normal business operations.

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Jeff Puetz is Director of Enterprise Risk Management at WestBend Mutual Insurance.

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