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Business Continuity Tips to Prepare for Winter Weather

By Amanda Daly | Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

If you live in an area that often receives snow, you know and expect what the winter season will bring: disruption, delays, cancellations, and closures of roads, busses, trains, boats and subways that transport people to and from work. With this in mind, you should also be prepared for something more such as power outages, force evacuations, and state travel ban.

In today’s article, we will take a look at some tips to help mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover during the winter weather.

How/where will employees work in the event of a winter weather scenario?

Most people who commute to work know that adverse weather can have a major impact on their travel to and from the office. Regardless of the manner of transportation (car, rail, subway, boat, bus, etc.), all will most likely experience delays and present challenges for commuters during a snow storm. Delays, breakdowns, cancellations, and longer commuting times are very common throughout a storm and can still impact travel days after a storm concludes, leaving employees largely unable to work effectively if at all.

If your firm supports remote access capabilities, ensure employees are prepared with the necessary infrastructure, workload expectations and communication tools. Regular testing should be conducted in advance to ensure that any unexpected challenges are dealt with before a major storm shuts down your office space.

Communication is key!

Maintaining communications is vital to every business, especially during a weather-related event. Being able to seamlessly continue communications even while remote or out of the office is important. Having critical business contacts stored on a mobile device or an accessible shared drive can help firms keep clients, partners, and vendors in the loop during any type of disruption.

Traditional calling trees are cumbersome and time consuming, and emails—especially outside of business hours — can often be overlooked. Automated emergency notification systems (ENS) can quickly and effectively deliver messages to various parties using a variety of methods.

When shopping for a ENS system, here are a few features to look for that could serve you well during a business continuity scenario:

  • SMS texting: Unlike calls, texts can be queued if there are service interruptions during a disaster

  • Two-way messaging: Allows users to respond to basic questions if needed

  • Mobile/remote access: Allows the system to be activated remotely or from a mobile device—convenient during a storm

  • Scheduled messaging: Having scheduling notifications in advance can save time

Provide employees with a quick reference card with high-level BCP information

The key to successfully weathering a winter storm is ensuring the entire organization understands what’s expected of them. And the only way to properly achieve that is through testing.

Tabletop exercises are a great way to get your response team up to speed and understanding what to do in thee situations. These informal brainstorming sessions encourage participation from management and other key employees to discuss a variety of potential scenarios and covers all of the actions necessary to ensure employees are safe and accounted for and the business can continue to operate. Firms could also conduct full-scale BCP tests to give all employees the opportunity to participate and share feedback with the group.
 

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