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Following the terrorist attack in London, Charlie considers the actions that business continuity managers should take when dealing with similar incidents.

This week I was due to write about my views on resilience, but in light of the terrorist attack in London, I thought I would share some thoughts on how a business continuity manager should respond to this type of attack.

In terms of pure business continuity, a terrorist attack of the London sort is unlikely to have much of an impact on your organisation. Unless the whole of the senior management team, trading team, or key sales team happen to be going past on a bus or sat in a restaurant, finding themselves caught up in the attack, you are unlikely to lose more than one or two members of staff. Individually, it would be a tragedy, but it would not have a major impact on the organisation as a whole. So in terms of risk, the event is small, but this should not stop us from responding.

Upon hearing about an incident I think business continuity managers should carry out the following:

  1. Check the location of the attack and decide whether any of your staff could be involved. If your staff are based in the UK and the attack is in somewhere like Berlin, you don’t need to do anything aside from making sure nobody travels for work.
  2. If there is a possibility that your employees could have been caught up in the attack, you should try and account for your entire workforce as soon as possible. It would be preferable to have a system in place ready for this type of incident. So if your staff hear about an incident that has happened nearby, they know to call the organisation and confirm that they are safe. You may have to verify if anyone is travelling, by contacting your travel provider or checking your diary.
  3. During terrorist events, it is a good idea to gather together your incident management team. You should conduct a short meeting, either in person or by conference call, and look at any further action you might take. As well as confirming you have accounted for all staff, you should consider whether investigations and street closures may have an impact on your offices, or on transport and staff trying to get into work. This is also an opportunity to practice the call out of team, as well as your ability to evaluate a situation and decide upon a response.
  4. You, perhaps with your incident team, should look at any long term impact of the incident. Will a particular location be closed for some time? Will it lead to new restrictions on public transport?

Below are a couple of additional thoughts you may want to consider and decide your organisation’s policy on:

  1. If a staff member was caught up in an attack whilst they were on holiday and they were killed or seriously injured, would your organisation support that person and their family? Or would you decide in advance that it would be a purely personal matter?I
  2. How do you record where staff are staying and what train or plane they are travelling on? Do they report in regularly? Have they been briefed to call into your organisation to confirm that they are safe, if they hear of an event local to them?
  3. Lastly, if your staff are travelling and need assistance from your organisation, who do they call (especially if the incident is out of hours or at the weekend)?

As mentioned previously, these types of attack are unlikely to cause a major business continuity incident, but by responding and making sure that you account for all of your workforce, you are demonstrating that you are taking good care of your staff.

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