Events of recent years have demonstrated that having an alternative worksite is not only prudent, but an essential precaution. Considered an element of Business Continuity, in some industries the decision to maintain an alternative worksite is not a choice but a matter of regulatory compliance.

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Sungard, Hewlett Packard, International Business Machines, and large numbers of regional vendors offer various shared facility programs. In some cases, the vendor supplies a fully equipped infrastructure complete with computers, telecommunication equipment, printers, high volume mailing systems, and high speed Internet access – all for a fixed monthly charge. In other cases, the offering consists of little more than an empty warehouse or ready-to-move-in office. There are even mobile options consisting of specially equipped trailers that can be driven to your facility and used as temporary office space for weeks at a time.

Choosing from these alternatives can be an overwhelming undertaking, especially for managers who are unfamiliar with this area of Business Continuity Planning. The following “checklist” is designed to help our clients perform a self-assessment and make an informed decision.

While important, the selection of an alternative work site involves more than a decision about a site’s location. The following list provides a few of the business continuity policy issues, grouped into seven categories that should be discussed before choosing an alternative worksite.

Organizational Preparedness

  • Is an alternative site plan part of your business continuity plan?
  • Does the plan provide for emergency notification of employees, clients, vendors and other stakeholders?
  • Has the plan been tested?
  • Do you have a business interruption insurance that pays the cost of using an alternative site?

Business Continuity Policies

  • How much seating capacity is allocated to your firm and is it in a private (walled off) setting?
  • Is the space shared among several clients who, in a wide-scale crisis would be competing with you for access to the space?
  • Does the vendor offer a program that would guarantees you a minimum number of “seats?”

Facility Infrastructure

  • Does the infrastructure of the alternative facility meet your needs in terms of electrical and HVAC capacity?
  • Have the security systems been through an audit?
  • Is the information technology including the telecommunications infrastructure redundant, diverse (uses multiple vendors), and have unused capacity?
  • Does the site have its own water supply or does it rely on city/town water systems?
  • Are there shipping and receiving areas?
  • Are there meeting areas where you can entertain clients, vendors or regulators?
  • What are the telephony, voicemail, email, and fax capabilities of the site?
  • Are there volume mail and print services onsite?
  • Are supplies stored on site?
  • Does the facility have a cafeteria or kitchen?
  • Are the sanitation facilities adequate to support the site when fully staffed?
  • Is there a secure space for storage of vital records (locked room, caged-in area, etc.)?

Information Technology Support Services

  • Are backup copies of your files maintained at the site for quick setup and access (disaster recovery)?
  • Do you have personnel on staff who can rebuild your Information Technology systems from the “ground up?”
  • Has the facility’s infrastructure undergone a recent network security audit?
  • Has the facility’s infrastructure undergone a recent physical security audit?
  • Does the vendor have staff that can perform this task should your people be unavailable?

Local Support Services

  • Is there adequate parking, lodging and food service facilitates in the immediate area?
  • What other services are in the area (banks, food stores, pharmacies, etc.)?


  • Is the site accessible by public transportation?
  • Does it have facilities for the physically challenged?


  • Is the neighborhood safe and suitable for long-term occupation of the recovery center?
  • Is security provided by the vendor?
  • Does the site offer an information security monitoring system?
  • Has the site been through a security audit?
  • Is the site secure, monitored, and available 24 hours a day?

For more information on this subject, other business continuity topics or business continuity policies please write to:

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