Business Continuity & Bad Weather
As Hurricane Sandy swept up the East Coast side of the United States, many Americans have had to learn the hard way that having a plan to maintain your business operations and communicate with staff, customers, students and anyone else involved in your day-to-day operations is vital – especially when faced with an event as unpredictable and tragic as Sandy.
In our connected world, the effects of the weather are increasingly impacting on the activities of organisations big and small. Being prepared to cope with severe weather will not only add value to your business and, more importantly, provide you with peace of mind when managing any related or other similar occurrences, but it can be the difference between survival and failure should such an event occur.
Firstly, you need to ask yourself a few questions – do you know the financial value of a day’s missed business? Do you customers rely on you to deliver a particular service on a specific day? Do you know what the knock on effects would be? What structures do you have in place at the moment to deal with unexpected closures or delays?
These are just some of the things to consider when making your continuity plan. The following details are a number of central elements that if addressed will help keep your company on track during an unexpected event.
Design a business continuity plan
From fires, floods, to tropical storms and even power outages or IT system failures, maintaining a functioning business during any time of crisis can be a challenge. By having agreed processes in place that you can rely on to communicate important information to the right people, you become best placed to minimise the disruption you would otherwise incur. This will also help with reducing stress on your management team, customers, and staff because they will all be kept in the loop as long as the processes are adhered to.
Diversify your communications
An over-subscribed cellular infrastructure during the 7/7 terrorist incidents, Queens Diamond Jubilee celebrations and more recently, the London 2012 Olympic Games highlighted the vulnerability of mobile networks during peak loads. The strain caused major delays to messages and in extreme cases such as the 7/7 attacks, forced cellular networks to effectively shut down; preventing public access.
Paging remains to this day the fastest, simplest and most reliable way to broadcast important messages and alerts. Recognising a need to diversify communications, the demand for traditional paging has dramatically increased. With the advent of two-way paging, users can now capitalise on the resilience of paging coupled with the ability to acknowledge and respond to messages.
Meeting your duty of care
As an employer you have a duty of care for your employees. Therefore in an emergency, it may be necessary to monitor the safety and whereabouts of your staff. Putting measures in place to do this may not be easy, but something as simple as a signing-in book can help you keep track of your employees.
In other instances you may need more advanced solutions to ensure the safety of vulnerable or field-based staff, such as lone workers. From simple welfare-checks and SOS alerting to sophisticated man-down and GPS location monitoring, there are a range of solutions that allow you to respond and react to staff in distress.
Implement an emergency notification system
PageOne offer a range of communication tools that be utilised in an emergency situations, but the importance of testing your emergency notification systems regularly cannot be understated. During an emergency, maintaining communications with staff is an imperative, but engaging with your customers and other key stakeholders can help prevent a customer backlash when information becomes difficult to obtain or non-existent through official channels.
Having a system in place where your clients are told about any last-minute changes to schedules, closures, and other critical information is important. Electing to push out regular communications can also ease internal pressures, and prevent congested phones lines, which might otherwise be used to manage the emergency at hand.