Sean Elliot: Keeping the doors open for business

The closure of the Forth Road Bridge has created numerous problems for businesses and workers on both sides of the river.
Sean Elliot, managing director of Network ROISean Elliot, managing director of Network ROI
Sean Elliot, managing director of Network ROI

Fortunately, many businesses already have the structure and tools in place to deal with unforeseen occurrences such as the sudden closure of Scotland’s most important road bridge.

If your business isn’t yet equipped to deal with such challenges, here are some tips to help you prepare for and deal with unexpected events and disasters.

Develop a healthy working culture

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An increasing number of businesses recognise the need to offer flexible working to help their staff cope with the increasing demands of professional life, parenthood and the daily commute.

Many organisations sell the idea of flexible working as a perk to attract talent, and it can pay handsome dividends for both parties. Increased productivity and improved work/life balance are just two of the mutual benefits, not to mention future proofing businesses from unforeseen headaches such as road closures or weather disruptions which impact commuters.

Use remote working technology smartly

It goes without saying that having a robust and secure business network is a must, regardless of whether you employ a remote workforce or not.

The growing number of mobile devices in the business environment is enabling more people to work remotely or on the hoof, but it also creates a greater risk of compromising the integrity of customer or client data. Educating and training staff on the importance of mobile encryption, password protection and mobile device management is vital to ensure a secure remote working environment.

Connectivity tools such as Skype for Business, Yammer and Slack include features such as instant messaging, video calling and presence information that let you easily stay in touch with remote staff.

Continuous improvements in connectivity infrastructure are making cloud-based apps such as Office 365, Basecamp and Google Docs much more appealing to businesses. Productivity apps make working collaboratively simple and intuitive and are especially useful for teams working across multiple locations.

Build bridges with office share

Strong business relationships can pay big dividends in emergency situations. If you have a client or partner with enough spare office space on the opposite side of the bridge, there may be an opportunity to ask if they can accommodate extra bodies on a temporary basis. You may also be in a position to return the favour. If not, collaborative business spaces – such as Creative Exchange in Edinburgh or Liberty Business Centres in Fife – can be hired to provide a temporary office across the water.

• Sean Elliot is managing director of Roslin-based IT services company Network ROI