March 15, 2020

Business Continuity: In the wake of coronavirus, how 'FlexFit' is your organisation?

David Shirley

FlexFit adjective

1.     of a suitable quality, standard, or type to meet the required purpose.
"the organisation was FlexFit to meet the challenges of the coronavirus"

As Coronovirus, or COVID-19, makes its presence known around the world, we face the real possibility of a pandemic. The recent reaction of global financial markets is a sobering indication of economic impact. But what does this mean for us personally? And how will it impact our businesses?

Many of us have never experienced this in our lifetime. One hundred years ago, the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic killed between 50-100 million people worldwide. As the disease spread, business was impacted through lack of trade and a reduced workforce, with many simply forced to shut down. Around the world, business continuity (BC) – the capability of an organisation to continue delivery of products or services at acceptable predefined levels following a disruptive incident[1]– was significantly tested. ­

But the early 1900’s did not have the advantage of the technology and flexible work options we enjoy today. While the threat of COVID-19 is real, it need not interrupt your business flow.

Is your organisation FlexFit? Is it of a suitable quality, standard and readiness to meet the challenges of external risk? In the event of a crisis, are you prepared for business continuity?

The Financial Times recently reported the Tokyo offices of Wall Street banks are trialling ‘split teams’ amid virus fears. The aim is to avoid an intra-company epidemic impacting any one department. Other organisations have divided staff into A and B teams rotating between home and office every two weeks, based on the presumed incubation period of the virus. For the many companies that do not have the flexible systems already in place, it will mean a steep and fast learning curve.

There is an opportunity to be ahead of the game. Embedding and normalising flexible work arrangements provide so much more than just a contingency during an infectious disease outbreak. Reported positives include a better work-life balance, reduced stress, improved workplace morale, increased productivity, fewer sick days, reduced commuting time and reduced operating costs.

A recent study by the International Workplace Group (IWG) revealed 50% of companies surveyed believe they could save more than 10% simply by converting long-term leases into flexible workspace[2].

In Australia,more than 70% of the workforce is working remotely each week. The companies they work for have embraced flexible working arrangements. On the back of Australia’s worst bushfire season in history, floods, heatwaves, and now coronavirus, the ability for business to be FlexFit is more critical than ever. We invest in succession planning, we practice fire drills and even have travel policies for the number of key staff travelling on the same plane. Is it time we now add the ‘flex’ test to our workplace operations and continuity?

The workplace is evolving at a rapid rate. Drawing on the Darwinian phrase, tomorrow’s workplace will be the Survival of the ‘Flex-fittest’ – it won’t be the strongest or the most intelligent businesses that will survive, but those who can best manage change.

If you’re keen to find out how FlexFit your organisation is, visit

[1] Source:ISO 22301:2012


Written by
David Shirley
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