In one of the more positive results to come out of the YouGov surveys commissioned by Citrix Online in the aftermath of the heavy snowfalls across the UK in 2010, more than one quarter of respondents felt that they were better-prepared to deal with the disruption this time than they had been previously.

Yet despite this greater confidence, the fact remains that most small businesses don’t have any formalised business continuity plans in place which can kick in when needed – and often when least expected.

2010 had more than its share of man-made and natural disruptions to test resilience. These ranged from snows, flooding and fall-out from the Icelandic volcano to employment disputes resulting in disruption to travel services at both national and local level.

All this forms part of a bigger picture, in which businesses are having to find ways of addressing the move towards a more virtual workplace, increasingly known as ‘workshifting’. Today, employers across both the private and public sectors are facing growing social, environmental, commercial and regulatory pressures to implement flexible working.

The good news is that technology is proving to be an enabler rather than an obstacle here. Four in five UK respondents confirmed that their organisation provided the technology to enable remote working, with the adoption of laptops, notebooks and smartphones leading the way.

The increasing availability of devices and applications designed to enhance employee productivity on the go is also driving greater workforce flexibility and responsiveness. However, a recent Omniboss survey found that the pace of change is inevitably patchy, although some firms are actively supporting all staff to adopt more flexible ways of working. Others are focusing on those where it is necessary for their role. Perhaps more surprisingly, if encouragingly, only six per cent actively discourage mobile working.

Fewer UK employees than ever believe they need to be in the office and interact with other staff face-to-face to get things done. Almost a quarter of respondents also confirmed that this flexibility is now embedded in their working practices.

The importance of technology enablers was reinforced by the survey, as more than 80 per cent of respondents highlighted access to devices and applications as central to maintaining and improving their productivity.

Collaboration technologies provide a powerful example of the support which is available to all companies, irrespective of size. Sophisticated, affordable and easy-to-use remote access and conferencing tools mean that employees can work from any location and access the corporate network, simply and securely.

At the same time they can work fully effectively with colleagues and customers via on-line meetings, using high-definition web conferencing solutions. It is this location-agnostic ability which sits at the heart of any business continuity improvement initiative, so that staff can be equally effective in ensuring ‘business as usual’, when away from the office on a planned or unplanned basis.