Businesses have become entirely reliant on collaboration tools during the pandemic – but a staggering number don’t have plans in place in case these systems were to fail.

These are the findings from a new study by videoconferencing and collaboration software company StarLeaf, which discovered that some 97% of UK businesses now see the likes of Zoom, Teams and WebEx as “absolutely essential” to their business.

However, despite the immense reliance on these tools, many businesses have failed to put robust measures in place to protect themselves if their systems were to fail.

Of the 2,000 businesses surveyed, just 32% said they had a secondary option ready to go in the event of an outage. Furthermore, one in five said they would anticipate productivity to drop to zero if their collaboration tools went down. This would be especially problematic for certain roles or industries – such as call centres where these tools truly are critical to day-to-day operations.

Perhaps most surprising was the discovery that many larger businesses – including some that speak at length about their agile, digital-first approach – had not put backup measures in place.

StarLeaf’s research also highlighted the impact such downtime would have on global supply chains. The company’s chief product officer, Kevin Bernitz, told how some UK manufacturers would have to halt production in the event of an outage, which would only add to the existing supply-chain issues witnessed in recent years. “The results of that,” Bernitz said, “could be catastrophic.”

These gaps may be worrisome, but maybe not necessarily a surprise. The pandemic drove businesses to urgently roll out collaboration tools to maintain productivity while their staff members worked remotely. Emphasis was on getting these tools set up and in use quickly – with less importance on longer-term reliability.

However, with many companies pledging to use a hybrid way of working in future, the time may have come to consider the wider collaboration ecosystem and ensure measures are put in place to keep systems online.