--> Gill Blog: March 2005

Gill Blog

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Telework-induced Reductions in Overhead

Yesterday, we cited the connection between teleworking, security and business continuity management. Assuming we agree, let’s now see how the deployment of teleworking will have an impact on things such as overhead – specifically, the demand for office space.

Ken Robertson of KLR Consulting Inc. of Burnaby, British Columbia (Canada) does a very nice job in describing the actual nature of duties performed by office workers and remote workers, but more importantly pulls out some very interesting numbers.
The bottom-line return can be substantial. Consider an organization of 200 employees with 10% of the employees working as mobile workers and 10% teleworking. The organization currently uses 40,000 square feet to accommodate its employees (200 workstations). Under the guidelines presented above, the organization could reduce its space by at least 4,600 square feet. At approximately $25 per square foot for annual operating costs this minor change saves $115,000 annually.

This article that appeared last spring on talks specifically about productivity gains associated with teleworking, as well as the overall reduction in overhead. The most interesting aspect of this article (especially if you are a real estate person) is the impact teleworking has on workspace configuration:
...the biggest savings come in real-estate costs and related office expenses. "It's enabled us to gradually shrink the footprint of our work space," says Debby McIsaac, director of work-life programs at HP…

...for years, companies with telecommuters have moved toward so-called hoteling—providing employees with access to offices and meeting rooms that can be used as the need arises but are not occupied full-time. Offices tend to be underutilized at least two-thirds of the time. "With lunch hours, sick days, nights, weekends, and travel, the actual office-space usage for most offices is about 30 to 35 percent of the time, and office-space sharing enables companies to increase their usage of one of their most costly assets," says Gil Gordon, president of Gil Gordon Associates, a telecommuting consultancy in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey.

Although the statistics on increased productivity and decreased expenses associated with teleworking seem irrefutable (including, at least $8,000 in office space savings per worker can be realized yearly by firms whose employees telework, according to the Institute of Distributed Work), there is still a fair deal of resistance, and much of the time this resistance is put up by managers, who somehow see telecommuting as a threat to their ability to control the work environment. It also points out that such arrangements might lead to petty jealousies and rivalries within the workplace. This article from New Zealand highlights these stumbling blocks. According to Bevis England, the managing director of Telework New Zealand:
ad hoc teleworking arrangements often lead to workplace jealousies forming and workers skiving off. Formal arrangements give employers a legal framework, especially for occupational safety and health and performance management issues.

The factors cited in this article should be put into their proper context – this comes from New Zealand where the concept of teleworking is in its infancy, and may not receive the type of support required to really push the concept ahead. The United States, on the other hand seems far ahead in its deployment of teleworking. With this comes the amount of clout required to really move things in the right direction, and this usually begins with government support that has the potential to ignite the concept. An example of government as accelerant is provided in the following piece that shows how the State of Georgia has A pair of bills now before the state House of Representatives that would reward employers with annual tax credits of up to $1,500 for each employee who works a certain amount of time from home rather than the office.
The bill would give employers an annual tax credit of $1,125 for each employee who begins working from home at least 12 days a month, or $375 for each employee who starts working from home at least five days a month. If the employer's office is in an area where air quality does not meet standards set by the federal Clean Air Act, the credit tops out at $1,500.

Employers could also get up to $40,000 to implement teleworking programs. The total payout by the state would be capped at $2 million in 2006, $5 million in 2007 and $7 million in 2008, at which point the credits would tentatively sunset.

Whether it happens today, or it takes ten years, one fact seems undeniable: the concepts of workplace continuity are taking hold, and change seems inevitable.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Teleworking a Key to Security

The basis of workplace continuity is unifying a number of change elements on a common platform. It was interesting to find the following piece that ties teleworking to security requirements. Gerald E. Connolly, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors just outside of Washington, is a big backer of the security-based rationale for telework:
"I won't be surprised if in the future the federal government requires every federal contractor to file a continuity of operations plan," Mr. Connolly said. "God forbid, but if there is a dirty bomb downtown and you can't get into the U.S. Transportation Department, how will you perform your job?"

David Snyder, chairman of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission agrees:
"Teleworking significantly improves the survivability of the public and the ability of the transportation system to do what it needs to do."

For more about this, you may want to read the Gill research brief on this subject, which was published last summer.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Visual Impact of City Skylines

A new listing by Emporis ranks cities by the visual impact of their skylines. It is drawn entirely from statistics in their database, and reflects only completed high-rise buildings.
Unnoticed by most users, the website grows every day by thousands of webpages. Additionally, more than 80,000 new photos are published in the Emporis Image Database every year allowing users of Emporis to get a picture of places they have never been or to explore their own cities in depth.

This is an extraordinary visual resource of major cityscapes.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

"Business Oscars" Shine Spotlight on BCP

Like many people who get so absorbed in a project, I often find myself simply assuming that those around me are just as involved. Take my wife for instance. I don't know how many times I have asked for her input on some small detail relating to what I'm doing, only to have her stare back at me with a steady poker face not truly letting on that she really couldn't be bothered one way or another. Faces tell alot - although she won't admit it, I still don't think my wife knows what I do, and for that matter anything about business continuity.

I suppose that's okay for her - she's got enough things to think about during her day. Besides, she has me to turn to in the event the plumbing springs a leak. I wonder, however, how good this type of blissful naivete is for small businesses. The following article points out that like my wife, many small businesses have a tough time making sense of it all, but may not let on -- all the while keeping their poker faces intact:
"Despite the high profile which business continuity and disaster recovery issues have in the media and industry today, these interim findings indicate that too many UK companies fail to have a clear overview of what business continuity actually means..."

That's a little scary for sure, but for a small business the question is where do they start? Of course you might start by laying out some very basic fundamentals, but creating a greater awareness is key.

I was intrigued by this piece from the U.K. that provided some details of the upcoming "The Business Oscars" - better known as the National Business Awards programme, an event that "will recognise businesses for their entrepreneurship and innovation, in a business climate that is often perceived as being unfriendly towards smaller companies." The event will be taking place in London on the 8th of November. What makes this particularly intriguing is the manner in which they are highlighting the importance of business continuity planning to a SMEs:

The AXA SME of the year award also seeks to highlight the importance of management excellence in maintaining a successful business today and continuing to grow it in the future. Considering a startling 80% of businesses affected by a major incident either never re-open or close within 18 months, therefore it is vital that SMEs have a business continuity plan in place, as part of their overall management strategy.

This sounds like a great way to spread the gospel of BCP to a wider audience - it also sounds like a great opportunity for my wife and I to take that trip to London we have always spoken about.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Campus Continuity at UCOP

The Office of the President of the University of California (UCOP) has been proactive about campus continuity for a number of years, even before concerns were heightened, post 9/11.
Although the university's mission is research, teaching and public service, rather than corporate earnings, standard business continuity principles and processes can be applied to a campus "business" environment. The overall goal should be to reduce risk and minimise disruption of campus research and academic programs. The focus should be on discrete campus building or system failure, rather than trying to deal with the overwhelming aftermath of a catastrophic disaster.

Until the terrorist attacks of 2001, Business Continuity Management programming was mostly an IT-oriented field. Since then, it has become an enterprise-wide concern for an ever-widening number of industries.

The first adopters to expanded BCM standards were governments and the financial services industry (FSI). Although a campus setting was not an initial focus, security experts, insurers and BCM programmers began identifying them as potential "soft targets" for terrorism, not to mention places that are becoming more susceptible to a spate of naturally-occurring phenomena.

The campus is unique and therefore, for a BCM plan to be effective, it must be grounded in addressing vulnerabilities that compromise the fundamental mission of the institution. Disruptive events have the potential to disrupt teaching, research, fundraising, and even competitive standing. More and more educational institutions are looking to develop programs that are specifically tailored to their needs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center

The Real Estate ISAC is a public-private partnership between the Real Estate Industry in the United States and the federal government to counter terrorism and protect buildings and the people who occupy and use them. This organization recently launched an awareness campaign to encourage building owners and managers to address homeland security issues such as emergency preparedness and response planning.

There's a slide presentation prepared by REISAC that explains why this partnership was established between the real estate industry and the Department of Homeland Security. It's being presented as a "vital weapon in the war on terrorism."
Federal officials say the threat environment for attacks against the U.S. is as dangerous as any time since 9/11. "Soft targets" such as commercial or multi-family buildings may be a focus. In this new era, everyone shares the responsibility for homeland security. Building owners and operators are doing their part by addressing emergency preparedness and response planning ... reaching out and building relationships with local law enforcement ... and reporting threats and suspicious incidents to appropriate authorities.

Today, the new Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said government officials in general must strike the proper balance by informing people about possible threats without creating too much anxiety or alarm. This response, after a governmental website inadvertently leaked a confidential draft report that listed 15 potential scenarios, including terrorist attacks, disease outbreaks and natural disasters, and gave estimates of probable deaths and the economic impact from each one.

Monday, March 14, 2005

NYU Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response

A report prepared by New York University’s Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response highlighting deficiencies in funding, training, and equipment to enable emergency medical services (EMS) personnel to respond to a major terrorist attack has prompted United States Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine to sponsor federal legislation that will improve the preparedness of the EMS system through more effective coordination of Federal programs.

Emergency Medical Services: The Forgotten First Responder, (pdf) which reflects the outcome of a national roundtable of EMS and emergency officials held by the Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response (CCPR) in December 2004 and a review of recent federal and independent reports, found a number of critical issues facing EMS systems in homeland security preparedness.

These critical issues include a lack of standards dictating how many EMS personnel should have protective equipment and how many should participate in mass casualty exercises; inadequate preparedness training for EMS personnel; insufficient homeland security funding devoted to EMS systems; and exclusion of EMS leadership from many emergency planning efforts.
Tim Raducha-Grace, Director of Research and Programs for NYU’s Center, said, “Emergency medical services personnel – paramedics and EMTs – are critical resources in the event of a major terrorist attack or catastrophic event. Yet, while the skills for delivering emergency medical care are well honed and their courage is unquestioned, they receive inadequate support to safeguard themselves in a perilous environment. If EMS personnel are not prepared for a terrorist attack, their ability to provide medical care and transport victims will be compromised. There will be an inadequate medical first response.”

Among the key recommendations in the CCPR report are:

* Legislation to establish a federal interagency committee on EMS to coordinate programs and improve preparedness.

* The establishment of EMS-specific terrorism preparedness standards and guidelines by federal agencies.

* Increased homeland security funding for EMS systems and personnel.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Campus Continuity for Educational Institutions

Have you heard the news? Gill Advisors Inc. has introduced Campus Continuity, a first of its kind, web-based risk management product targeted specifically toward the educational sector. Campus Continuity provides risk planners with the toolkit to construct an all encompassing risk management plan that combines key elements of emergency response planning, with business continuity management.

As the profile of business continuity planning increases, more industries become aware of the need to better shield themselves from the effects of disruptive events. This not only includes the need to adopt emergency management practices specifying safety procedures to follow during an emergency, but the measures required to minimize the physical, financial and business impact of such an event. The educational sector stands at the forefront of this movement.

Until now, educational administrators charged with the development of such programs have utilized the same risk management tools used in other sectors. Gill has just launched a new service that provides educational institutions with a fresh approach to this challenge called Campus Continuity. As Gill Advisors looked at what was available—actually, what clearly wasn't available for administrators of educational institutions—we saw the need for a more targeted solution.
"It is important that educational administrators move beyond a point where they are developing strategies that simply address and react to the emotional aspects of risk management” says Gill, “they need to move to a level that is more methodical, efficient and all-encompassing in its approach. We believe Campus Continuity provides the requisite approach to accomplish this.”

This is a first of its kind web-based consulting solution that provides educational administrators with the framework to build comprehensive risk mitigation programs (i.e. an emergency management program and business continuity plan) for their institutions. This is a subscription-based product that is accessible at, integrated with the website of Gill Advisors Inc. where, now, administrators of educational instituitons and their facility managers can easily access a complete range or solutions specifically created for them.

Campus Continuity is the world’s first program offering risk management solutions specifically tailored to the unique needs of educational institutions. It is structured to address the unique composition of all constituents at an educational institution, as well as the critical processes and operational flows that exist in an educational setting.

The platform synthesizes the strategic elements of location-based project work, with an auditorium-style seminar format using MyTalkback, an innovative technology platform provided by Streamlogics, a strategic partner in this venture. Unlike a conventional seminar that occurs once at a fixed location (i.e. one that is entirely dependent on location), the Campus Continuity seminars can be viewed over and over again by all team participants and accessed simply on a viewer’s desktop.

"The MyTalkback suite of web presentation products is the perfect solution for any web-based seminar series" says David Gascoine, VP Marketing and Operations at Streamlogics. "Using this technology, Campus Continuity is offering a level of access and availability never before available from traditional consulting services."

The entire program is divided into ten separate subject areas (or seminars), each of which consists of the following elements:

• An online seminar delivered on an anywhere/anytime basis for the duration of the client subscription period
• A detailed white paper that provides the foundation for the seminar
• An executive summary of the paper and presentation
• A detailed action plan that provides the planning team with a list of actionable items that can be carried out to address the issues presented in the seminar

Each of the supplementary documents can be downloaded and printed for distribution to all critical members of an institution’s planning committee.

We're really excited about the opportunity, using web-based technology, to get much-needed solutions distributed to widely-dispersed educational administrators. This is a very important sector that has not been well-served with business continutiy solutions, and we're pleased to offer Campus Continuity as the first of a series of web-based applications that is an important part of the Gill BCP offering.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Blog Gives Birth to a Website

Our loyal readers have followed this business blogging since early '03 (that's a dog's age in internet years). And, over the past few years, a small group of business leaders who shared our interests in what we now call "workplace continuity" has grown into a collaborative business, with a network of specialists working closely with clients in the public sector and in business, applying the latest thinking in business continuity planning.

We have continued to make the Gill Blog better, as we engage with our readers on topics of mutual interest. As our blog grew, and grew, our readers asked for a better way to find topics of interest to them, so we organized the Gill Blog Directory, which makes it easy to browse the blog if you just want to poke around in areas of special interest by topic headings. With the recent blog makeover, there's now a fresh opportunity to post comments, which is great, because there are some pretty sharp people we're meeting here, and the blog is an interesting place to share ideas.

As our business has grown, we've been building a corporate website that is really much more than a typical website because it has grown out of our experience with blogging. Like the Gill Blog, the website of Gill Advisors Inc. is a place on the worldwide web where our clients, colleagues and competitors can go regularly to find the latest thinking and more—research papers, articles, interviews and specialized seminars. We'll be talking more about all that in the days, weeks and months ahead. Like the blog, the website is a work in progress, so you'll find new stuff posted all the time. Like most bloggers, we don't like websites that are the same every time you visit, so the Gill website will grow with us.

The new website was conceived by bloggers. It wasn't created overnight but it was delivered on time and within a tight budget, largely due to the passionate dedication of our advisors, especially Anthony Crawford who mustered web design and construction in support of our business ideas, and made it all come together with the blog. As always, Gill has been helped by some of the best in the business, eschewing recognition for their unique contributions, which I'm personally very thankful for.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

BCI Survey Reveals Business is Unprepared

Research by the Business Continuity Institute reveals that 20% of businesses still do not have disaster recovery plans, despite respondents believing that terrorism, fire and flood present significant threats to their business operations.

Andy Tomkinson of the BCI described the results of a new survey to be released to the public during the upcoming Business Continuity Awareness Week, saying, "The BCI awareness survey provides a timely reminder that more needs to be done to help business prepare for disruption. It is a wake up call for Government and business to come together and highlight what needs to be done, to prepare for better disaster recovery and business continuity planning."

A preview of the highlights of this major survey were released to the media:
The Business Continuity Institute’s (BCI) awareness survey reveals that:

• Outside of the finance industry, many large business’ continuity plans are not as comprehensive as they need to be.

• Businesses believed that the most significant threat to their operations are terrorism, fire and flood risk.

• Despite firms having physical disaster recovery plans, a significant minority had no plans for less serious disruptions such as unavailability of key staff, server downtime and supplier failure; the most likely of recovery events to occur in the workplace.

• 60% of business do not test their disaster/business continuity plans annually.

The BCI business continuity awareness survey provides for the first time a representative survey of UK business, providing a detailed insight into the differences in attitudes to business continuity planning between small, medium and large firms.

The BCI exists to improve standards of professionalism and provide assistance to managers responsible for business continuity/disaster recovery in organisations. The BCI’s members come from a diverse field of industry that includes banks, insurers, retailers, and IT firms.

The full results of the BCI research will be announced at the 2005 Business Continuity Risk Management Expo held in London on 16 & 17 March 2005. The event, part of the annual BCI ‘Awareness Week 2005’, will assemble the largest gathering of Business Continuity decision makers and solutions providers in Europe and worldwide in the Excel Exhibition Centre, Docklands in London.

If you're interested in preparing your company or government organisation, or making your business colleagues more aware of the need for preparedness, you might want to get the colour poster that is available as a pdf download from the website of the Business Continuity Institute, where you can also get a free pocket-sized version of their Good Practice Guidelines 2005.