By Marcus Leach

Nearly two-fifths (39%) of small businesses in the UK do not have a disaster recovery (DR) plan in place for their IT, and well over half (57%) have no business continuity for their workplace requirements.

These are the findings of the latest research report from Regus, the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces, suggesting that the issue of DR has slipped down boardroom agendas in the economic downturn.

The report highlights that small firms are less likely to have an adequate IT and workplace DR plan than large firms, and are leaving themselves exposed to the huge business risk posed by relatively common events such as fires, flooding and theft.

In order to take the pulse of business ‘preparedness’, the Regus report canvassed the opinions of 2000 small businesses across the UK and found that a significant proportion are taking a huge gamble with their shareholder’s assets and failing to take proper precautions.

Key findings include:

*33% of large UK firms (with over 250 employees) compared to 39% of small firms do not have an IT DR plan in place ensuring systems are up and running within 24 hours
*53% of large firms have no workplace recovery that could be available within 24 hours, compared to 57% of small firms
*Over a quarter of SMEs (27%) perceive the cost of DR as “prohibitive” compared to only 8% of large firms
*Over a third of respondents (34%) declared that they would invest in workplace recovery if the service were suitably priced

“Our research reveals that, in spite of reports indicating that the average incident can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, disaster recovery among UK businesses and especially SMEs is not as widespread as imagined, particularly when it comes to workspace," Celia Donne, Regional Director at Regus commented.

"Although the UK is not regarded as a country particularly at risk of natural disasters, Lloyds of London has recently warned that the insurance industry faces significant difficulties after record claims in 2011, highlighting that lack of planning can have wider-reaching consequences.

Daryl Hill, Managing Director of Mapcargo International, the transport and logistics company, explains how Regus came to their rescue.

“Put simply, Regus came to the rescue after our Heathrow HQ was destroyed by fire," he said.

"What we thought was a small fire ended with the building collapsing and an urgent need to relocate 27 employees. For Mapcargo to survive as a business it was critical that we could be up and running fast, as communication is an integral part of our business and we can’t operate without it.

"It was the recommendation of a friend that put us in contact with the Regus office in Stockley Park. I would urge all businesses, large or small, to be proactive and put thought and planning into their disaster recovery programmes rather than waiting until something happens. Regus combines know-how and excellent service with ready to go office space to help you keep your business ticking over when disaster strikes.”

Celia Donne continued to say that most SMEs would be willing to pay a monthly fee to cover such disasters.

“Over a quarter of SMEs in the UK reveal a high perceived cost of DR, but many also report that they would be willing to pay a monthly fee to access a workplace disaster recovery facility in case of emergency," she said.

"This is an important indication that although too many businesses are taking a gamble, their mentality is changing. As affordable products and services become available around the globe, it is likely that more businesses will finally stop hoping for the best and seriously start planning to prepare for the worst.”

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