Checklist for planning short-term service changes

Scenarios

This checklist uses three principal scenarios which will mean reduced access to the archive service:

A: closure of onsite public access

This applies when public health restrictions include closure of spaces open to the public, but staff can remain working in a Covid-secure office environment.

B: reduced staff complement onsite

This may apply in a number of scenarios, including staff sick or quarantining; redeployment to other parts of an organisation; or restrictions on travel which mean staff are unable to reach their workplace. Some staff may be able to work onsite, but numbers are lower than previously planned.

C: complete closure of archive service site

This applies when public health restrictions mean that non-essential workplaces are closed and staff are unable to work onsite regularly.


Areas for consideration

Business continuity plan

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C

For all forms of significant change of access to the archive service’s site(s), activate the business continuity plan, within its operational context and with management support.

Ensure that key operational contacts are aware of the change (eg facilities and ICT teams, media/ comms teams, security provider) and ready to support.

Planning ahead: Revising the plan in advance to take account of lessons learned from recent months will help you to respond quickly if the situation changes. This includes recording how you closed down and reopened sites, and how remote access was managed. Ensure that contacts are kept up to date as circumstances may change quickly.  Update relevant risk assessments, adding in or updating mitigation measures based on experiences from March 2020 onwards.

Closure of access to the site for the public

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
Ensure that onsite public access is clearly closed, with communications, signage and appropriate access barriers/security. Where possible, give advance notice of closure.

If internal users are also not able to visit, ensure that this is clearly communicated.

If in shared premises, ensure that other occupants are clear about your arrangements and how any shared public areas (reception, entrance, lifts/stairs) are to be managed if public access is maintained to other parts of the building.

Public access to collections remotely

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
Identify levels and types of enquiries which can be managed during closure, depending on levels of staffing and access to collections.

Are you able to manage digitisation orders, record copying, and remote enquiries? Do you need to revise standard timescales for responding to external enquiries and requests? If so, ensure that this is included in communications. Can you identify lists of key resources that particular postholders should take home to enable these services to operate during scenarios B and C?

If you are offering new opportunities for remote engagement while there is no or limited public access, communicate these.

If staff cannot access the site regularly, make arrangements for managing any physical post, including public enquiries.

Planning ahead: is there anything you are able to prepare in terms of remote access, use or creation of digitised content, social media plans, new use of digital engagement tools, which will help you to deliver greater remote access? Setting this up will give you more options in the event of a short-notice reduction in onsite access.

Staffing: training and support

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
If conditions have become more severe in your area, new procedures may be needed, requiring different working patterns or procedures. Ensure that you review the situation when public health requirements change, so that any procedural essential changes are identified, in place, communicated and staff are trained on what has changed.

Ensure that staff are clear on what to do if they or a colleague becomes ill or if they are required to self-isolate following official advice.

Staffing: revised work plans for staff

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
When onsite access is closed, visitor-focused frontline staff will require alternative work. If the site is completely closed or staff are unable to reach the site for other reasons, most staff will have to work differently. Some staff with specific health concerns, caring responsibilities and vulnerabilities may need to work remotely for significantly longer periods of time. Ensuring that staff have a clear sense of expectations around their work is important, but so is flexibility to recognise changing and challenging circumstances.

If staff are unable to work, follow procedures for managing this e.g. special leave.

Planning ahead: identifying work which can be delivered remotely will help to smooth transitions in staff roles. If there are records which could be digitised or key reference works which staff will need, prepare these ahead of time where possible. If staff struggled with lack of digital skills, inadequate hardware or Wi-Fi in previous home-working, are there aspects you could address?

Staffing: remote staff support

Relevant to scenarios B and C
When staff are not able to visit the site or only in limited ways, ensure that arrangements are in place to support them. This may involve a continuation of/return to spring 2020 arrangements, such as:

  • online meetings and one-to-one contacts
  • remote wellbeing and welfare support to staff
  • staff development opportunities including formal learning and knowledge-sharing among the team
  • keeping staff up to date with plans for reopening or other changes to access
  • keeping in touch with staff who are redeployed

If any staff were not actively working (e.g. on annual or sick leave) at the point when access arrangements changed, ensure that they also have the access they need. This may require delivering hardware to home addresses.

Volunteering

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
Many services have not resumed onsite volunteering, but this would clearly be affected by further access restrictions.

Be clear where public onsite access closures include onsite volunteers.

If staff have limited or no access to the site, this may affect what remote volunteers can do. Ensure that volunteers are kept up to date with any plans, and that you keep in contact insofar as possible.

Planning ahead: identifying activities which can be delivered remotely will help to smooth transitions in volunteering. If there are records which could be digitised, systems for remote inputting or key reference works which volunteers will need, prepare these ahead of time where possible. Ensure you have up to date contact information for volunteers.

Communications with the wider organisation

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
Ensure that managers and decision-makers are aware of arrangements for the archive service.

Continue to keep in contact with key internal service providers such as security, facilities, media/ Comms, ICT, records management etc.

Communicate what level of service is available for internal users and whether there are priority enquiries such as urgent legal queries.

Communications with the public

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
Announce site closure and communicate levels of ongoing public service, if any – ensure that this message is consistent across website, social media channels and any formal media announcements.

Keep communicating as the situation evolves.

Communications with The National Archives

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
Ensure that there is a line of communication with The National Archives. This is essential for Places of Deposit for public records and for Accredited Archive Services, but general updates are also useful.

Communications with other stakeholders

Relevant to scenarios A, B and C
Ensure that you continue to communicate with other stakeholders about an evolving situation. This may specifically include:

  • depositors, particularly if you had scheduled new accessions before the period of reduced access and arrangements now need to change
  • funders, particularly if current project activity is impacted by a period of reduced access – it may be necessary to revise planning and reporting accordingly
  • other relevant archives networks for mutual support
  • other organisations with which you share a building

Systems: remote access to IT systems

Relevant to scenarios B and C
When staff are not able to visit the site, remote access has been essential to business continuity. Arranging for offsite access is essential. This includes:

  • staff access to files, emails, staff intranet and other internal systems
  • collections management systems such as catalogues and accession registers
  • collections care storage monitoring systems
  • digital preservation systems
  • digitised material for responding to enquiries and for online engagement/social media activity
  • content management systems and social media accounts

Planning ahead: Arranging remote access in advance supports ongoing business continuity. If you cannot already access the above, aim to set this up and test it as part of wider work on business continuity planning and before it is urgently needed.

Building closure

Relevant to scenario C
Ensure the site is secure and clear of waste and perishables, following all closure/locking up procedures when leaving for a potentially extended period.

Planning ahead: if you established useful new procedures during March 2020 as a result of planning for prolonged closure, have these been recorded? This will manage risk in the event of a short-notice reduction in site access. If you did not have a quick closure grab list/shutdown procedures, consider creating for ready reference.

Security arrangements

Relevant to scenarios B and C

Draw up lists of what those carrying out such checks should look for and the appropriate response if problems are identified

Ensure that alarms are functioning and monitored (fire/flood/security).

Where premises are shared, ensure you are aware of other occupants’ arrangements and agree a joint approach where possible. If different access levels are in place for different tenants, review security plans for the archives to ensure that any vulnerabilities are addressed.

Relevant to scenario C
Establish what site security will be possible under new arrangements, from staff, security patrols or other monitoring. This should include outstores and digital storage if not hosted remotely.

If no staff or regular security presence is possible, establish whether your organisation’s provider of security services can make periodic checks on an unattended building. Inform the local police force if the archive facility has been locked and is unattended, passing on key-holder contact details.

Remote collections care management

Relevant to scenario C
Where remote monitoring of environmental conditions, alarms and digital preservation systems is possible, ensure that oversight is maintained.

Where possible, ensure that onsite checks are made, whether by staff members or through arrangements with security presence.