There are many “States of Emergency” that can cause an interruption in your business, such as:
Based on what part of the world you live in, there are more examples, but listed are the most common.
For areas with good chances of having a natural occurrence, such as “hurricane season,” it’s paramount to use this knowledge to prepare in advance. Let’s use hurricanes as an example because:
#1 they are one of the most common repeating disasters
#2 hurricanes can affect so many different aspects of your business
When we think about hurricanes, we commonly think of property damage and power outages. But there are many other ways they can negatively impact our community and business.
Preparing for a natural disaster is not a one-person show and should be a team mindset for cohesive results. If one piece of the overall puzzle is missing, there will inevitably be a hole in what you’re attempting to accomplish.
Before the Event Happens
Let’s talk first about the low-hanging activity that we know will most likely happen, such as:
• Power Outage
• Internet Down
Can your company function without these two key elements? Most likely not because you will need those tools unless perhaps your business is something like a fruit stand. And if you’re a fruit stand and a legitimate business, you will still need the Internet to process sales and keep track of inventory.
If your existing work location is compromised (damage from the storm or Internet service out), do you have a backup plan? The most common options are:
• Moving to a temporary location
• Everyone temporarily working remotely
• Call a time-out and wait for things to get back to normal
For options #1 and #2 – you most certainly need an advance plan. For the third option, this is only realistic if your business doesn’t require time-sensitive work-related output and your customers or clients aren’t depending on you. But, if the third option decreases the revenue needed to keep your business moving forward, it’s best to opt, and plan for, one of the first two alternatives.
With any plan, practice makes perfect. If a temporary location is your choice, have a plan to move quickly with the materials and equipment you need immediately.
Less is more as it will still need to be returned to your main headquarters unless that’s not possible due to extensive damage and the need for repair.
If working remotely, ensure anyone involved knows the plan and can set it up to become functional quickly. Talk in depth to your team about overcoming the distractions at home as your business still needs to push forward. It’s an excellent approach to perhaps have a third party come in for a mandatory session to give tips and best practices to make working remotely a success. Working this way may sound like a no-brainer, but how quickly it can render operations dysfunctional is incredible. Communicating in the temporary “new norm” without a plan can lead to an “unnatural” disaster. Lay out the plan in written form, share it with everyone, and again, practice.
We’ve previously talked about how employees can be proactive when working from home. Check out this blog “Give Your Employer Confidence in Your Ability to Work From Home.”
You’ve heard the saying, “Prepare for the Worst Hope for the Best.
Prepare is the operative word. The more you ready your company for the unexpected, no matter how much notice, the better the outcome. It’s usually not a good thing to scramble because you didn’t have a proper plan.
For a hurricane, some preparedness ideas are:
Your Physical Office
Move all equipment away from the windows. For example, it could be damaged if the window breaks and is exposed to the outside elements. Break up this task to include the different preassigned departments or special “task team(s)” whose mission is to jump into action once notified of the incoming storm.
Your Internet is Out
- The most apparent step is ensuring your data is continuously backed up to an off-site server (the Cloud). As a further measure, set it up to back up to an external hard drive.
- For both instances, if you don’t have power, it’s crucial to perform this task daily, or more if you regularly update critical data. Some software can detect the most recent changes and back up only the most recent activity. This structure is significant because it will run faster as it already has the previous data.
And, if you commonly make important changes that may happen in between backups, think about purchasing a backup supply source such as a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) directly connected to the computer(s).
This investment will allow you the time to back up the data manually and properly shut down your operating system (i.e., unexpected computer crashes are not healthy).
If you don’t already have a medical kit for minor office “emergencies” like papercuts or bumping a knee on an open file cabinet, it’s time to create one. During a natural disaster, the unexpected can happen. Of course, professionals should handle any necessary extreme care; however, that’s not always possible. Many times, small actions can make a tremendous difference in the outcome. For these types of measures, it’s a good idea to have the proper training to perform such tasks as:
• Open Wounds
• Broken Bones
How you manage these types of injuries in advance of professional care, can make all the difference. Of course, as mentioned above, include training, as not knowing the proper method can do more harm than good.
Your company may want to train individual department members or form a safety task force responsible for jumping in and overseeing emergencies.
For some more tips and a list of suggested supplies to keep in stock, download a PDF of the Mayo Clinic First Aid Kit supply ideas.
Once you’ve determined the plan for all the above, make sure you:
Communicate to all key members and provide the training where necessary
So, they’re not blindsided, inform clients and customers in advance of any potential emergency event
Ensure all is in writing and regularly double-check to update as needs and circumstances change. The ability to refer to the “manual” is beneficial as most emergencies are infrequent.