South Oxfordshire District Council hit the headlines recently following a fire which badly damaged their premises in Crowmarsh Gifford, along with many documents relating to planning applications. The disruption suffered since has been widely reported, as new accommodation has had to be found for the staff members. The loss of many planning application and comments documents has caused further substantial inconvenience. It’s a terrible story, and we wish them well in their recovery efforts. It’s also a reminder of how we should each look to our own businesses to see how we would cope should such an event occur. So take a moment to ask yourself ‘what if?” What if there was a fire, flood, subsidence or other such force that could preclude your employees from attending their workplace? Thankfully, there are things that can be done to help protect the business. Let’s start with electronic document management – transferring paper files, letters, documents and archived papers into electronic versions. It takes you one giant step closer to a paperless environment – much less of a fire hazard - and puts your crucial business information at the fingertips of employees wherever they may be. All they’ll need is a computer and an internet connection to access the information remotely. Couple this with a digital mailroom to manage, distribute and file incoming mail, both physical and electronic mail, and you’re no longer reliant on operating from the same office. It’s a good practice to put this more robust technology in place for other reasons too. It allows for more flexible working arrangements, gives remote workers instant access to information and improves flow of information throughout the business. Tasks can be assigned and monitored more effectively, there’s less chance for documents to get lost, and of course staff benefit from fewer delays in the work process. Plus there are cost savings to be made, with little need for archive accommodation, office space can be reduced. And with fewer interruptions to productivity efficiencies will start to show in a positive way on the bottom line. And if disaster were to strike? Staff could be up and running in very little time at all. Customers and/or the public would suffer very little inconvenience, and business continuity would be restored. All you need are the right processes in place plus a back-up server away from your usual premises.

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