Fallback Offices – As relevant as always?

COVID-19 is proving that most of us can work from home. We have to.

It is also proving that working from home is not suitable or appropriate for all.


Many are just not that happy working full time from home. Some do not have the facilities; others do not have the right environment to work at home and we all missed the interaction with other humans.

Co-working, particularly in financial services is often key to efficiency and therefore maximisation of productivity. This is undoubtedly lost to some degree when working from home.

Despite being more connected than ever, the research is also showing that mental health and family problems are soaring.

Some, however, are enjoying spending more time at home. These tend to be 35 and over, with families, larger houses and gardens. These people enjoy not having to commute and seeing more of their families.

Others struggle. For example, younger staff tend to live in smaller, often shared accommodation and see work colleagues as a big part of their social life. During lockdown they are spending weeks working in their rooms and then having no or limited outdoor spaces to escape to in the evenings.

Older, non-workers, struggle too. They often have no easy access or understanding of the technology that connects the rest of society and are isolated.

In an attempt to compensate during this time, there has been a huge rise in the use of video conferencing, not just for work but also for our social life.

We have tried “Zoom Beers” and meet ups and see friends via video calls. But it is soon clear that even these video interactions are no replacement for seeing people in real life.

Why is this? There are many reasons, but one of the biggest is that on a Zoom call or Webex you are talking to everyone at once. It is difficult to have a true conversation that a number of people can join into, as the technology is designed for people to present, one way.

In real-life meetings, and particularly in social gatherings, people have sidebar conversations and other interactions. In real life, people can talk at once and there are discussions that go on before, during and after the central meeting which helps building relationships and improves creativity.


The Wider Context

The world was changing before the pandemic. The technology was already there to allow everyone to work from home.

However, Google, a remote collaboration tools company and provider of “Hangouts”, spent $1 Billion dollars on just the land to build its new “Googleplex” head office. The company has now spent almost $3 billion on property in Silicon Valley over the last three years.

So even one of the world’s most technologically advanced companies, providing these remote collaboration tools, believes that staff physically working together are more creative and make faster, better decisions.

Google famously provides breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their staff can bring their pets in, have haircuts and even sleep in the office. This is done with the sole aim of bringing staff together and keeping them together.

Google is not alone in thinking this. IBM, Yahoo and Bank of America are other high-profile cases of those reducing their telecommuting or home working.

Protect the Core

So, although we can work from home, at time of disaster the thinking is moving to the idea of having a smaller core facility to fall back to.

This core fallback facility provides guaranteed infrastructure and resources for the Crisis Management Team and core business functions so they can coordinate the response of the rest of the company.

Crucially, this fallback also acts as a focus and meeting place for the rest of the staff and also for interactions with Customers, Regulators and Suppliers. To be this focus, and an office that you are happy for Customers to visit, it needs to be a pleasant, modern facility – such as the award-winning FortressAS Recovery Centre.

In our research we found that 8 out of 10 the companies in the City and West end needed a fallback facility for between just 20 and 80 staff.

We find that this represents just 10% of the company staff, although this percentage tends to increase for those involved in real-time trading.

The Regulators View

With the Bank of England and FCA focusing heavily Operational Resilience and ensuring that Business Services are always available to Customers, a modern Recovery Facility is a key element of the fallback provision.

These regulators want firms to prepare for “severe but plausible scenarios” and have fallback provision to cope. The attention from regulators had been focused on mitigating cyber-attack and again this is an area in which Work Area Recovery comes to the fore.

If your business is under attack, your IT team will be under pressure to manage the incident and reimage the locked operational office PCs. If this happens and you have a fallback office, staff can continue to deliver the critical Business Services from the Recovery Centre ensuring that the Impact Tolerances are not exceeded. The firm has the added benefit of further technical support from the Recovery Technicians at time of disaster to take the workload from the IT team.

A phased return

We are seeing that many of our Customers are starting already to look at how they phase the return of their staff to their offices.

The consensus is that, in the initial stages of the return at least, the density of the office should be reduced to maintain some level of social distancing.

Needing a flexible space that enables firms to temporarily expand their footprint to allow for reduced density working, Customers are using the FortressAS Recovery Centre.

And finally…

And finally, we will return to normal in the coming months but many feel that the new normal is likely to be different to the old normal.

The new way of working will be more flexible, and our main offices will most likely reduce in size but also in density.

FortressAS is currently running a survey to detail the way the market is responding, and we will keep you updated on this.


We will be flexible in our response and aim to help our Customers meet the new challenges by providing innovative and relevant services.

Our Recovery Centre and Services are different because:

  • The Recovery Centre is a nice place to be – happy staff are effective staff.
  • The latest technology underpins our services – delivering the fastest recovery available.
  • Our flexible, customer-centred approach – we are easy to work with.

Schedule a call to see how we can help in the phased return and meeting the challenges of the new normal.

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