Keeping Your Company Working During Storms
During a snow day or more severe storm, it’s important for even small businesses to have a continuity plan that includes keeping in communication with employees. Planning for disaster recovery should include preparing a before, during and after communications plan that companies use to reduce business slowdowns that can have long-term, damaging effects on profits and market share.
List Potential Scenarios
Write a list of the potential weather emergencies that might shut down your business. This could include a snowstorm that occurs while people are at work, or a tornado or flood that happens after hours. Once you know what might happen to your business and your people, you can develop separate communications plans for each scenario.
Choose Your Communications Tools
Decide how you’ll communicate with employees during a weather emergency. Don’t rely on your internal server or even an off-site hosting company that isn’t national. If employees have their own cell phone plans, don’t assume group texts will reach everyone. Tell employees to check a centralized communications portal such as Google Hangouts. If you have a website that will continue to function after a weather incident, create a password-protected area that only your employees can access for messages. In some cases, group emails will work fine if everyone’s email address is on a safe list.
If you have a large campus, distribute walkie-talkies for each building to use during a power outage. Have battery operated phone chargers to keep phones working. Purchasing a weather radio lets you stay tuned to the latest emergency bulletins before, during and after a power outage.
Don’t Forget Outside Stakeholders
In addition to your staff, remember to keep in touch with contractors, vendors, suppliers, insurers, landlords, service providers, customers and the media. Let them know how to reach you during the emergency and send a reminder if you have warning that one is coming. As soon as a storm passes, contact your external stakeholders to let them know your situation and when you’ll be back up and running.
List Employee Responsibilities
Make sure everyone knows what his or her role is during an emergency, in terms of communicating with other employees or outside stakeholders. Create redundancies to address situations where one employee loses power or is stranded in a car without the ability to communicate. Put all your plans in writing and ask employees to keep copies at the office, in their cars and at home. Don’t put anything proprietary in writing, including passwords, employees’ personal contact information, or external stakeholder data. Ask employees to give you addresses of the places to which they are likely to evacuate during an emergency. This will help you track possible locations of employees who are in communication and/or send overnight documents (including paychecks) to them if necessary.
Decide who will take equipment, documents and data with them if you have to evacuate your building. Make sure you have portable safes, extra keys and waterproof cases in your place of work to help safeguard important materials during a storm.
Contact the Media
If your business is hit and will have reduced operating capacity or will completely shut down for a length of time, send a press release to the media. This will help you communicate to members of the public, including customers, regarding when you will be open, how they can contact you and how you can help them during your recovery.