Preparing For Extreme Weather
It’s that time of year again! The weather warnings are starting to crop up and you need to be preparing for extreme weather.
At time of publication there is a yellow warning in place for The East Midlands between 9pm tonight (Tuesday) and Wednesday mid-day.
Last year we experienced the ‘Beast from the East’. This was reported to be the most expensive weather event in the UK for almost a decade. It was estimated to cost the UK economy £1bn per day. Whilst there are no suggestions that we’ll be experiencing those kinds of extremes again it is still sensible to ensure that you’ve got some ‘extreme weather plans’ in place.
Communication and preparation are key to any plan and this is no different when preparing for extreme weather. Everyone in the organisation should be aware of what they need to do in the event of poor weather.
Our Top Tips For Preparing For Extreme Weather
Have a policy
Make sure that every employee is aware of what to do in the event of bad weather. Especially important is to confirm what is meant by adverse weather and when the policy comes into place. This will be different for all businesses. Things that you’ll need to consider include where you are based, the transport links from where staff live, and the nature of the work carried out. The plan for a logistics company is going to be very different to that of a recruitment business.
You’ll also need to ensure you and your staff know what is happening with pay in the event of them being unable to attend work. Ensure that you get advice from an appropriate source before putting this in place.
Your policy should include how you will communicate with employees in the event of extreme weather, and how they should communicate with management. Individuals who commute may be experiencing very different conditions than those at the office. Travelling from a safe area into one with extreme conditions is not advisable.
Prepare the office environment
Preparing for extreme weather means testing the heating before the cold weather kicks in! There is nothing worse than arriving at a freezing cold office, and productivity will be affected. Also think about gritting car parks, pavements and entrances. You don’t want slips and falls when staff arrive at work. It’s also worth thinking about lighting during the long, dark winter nights.
Whilst we are talking about preparation then make sure your data backups are up to date. The chances of power outages increase in bad weather. These can cause issues with servers and you want to make sure than any data loss is kept to an absolute minimum.
How Technology Can Help
Although the weather in the UK is relatively mild it is worth considering business continuity – explained here – when you look at your technology solutions.
The most obvious issue in preparing for extreme weather is employees who cannot make it into the office. This may be due to transport issues or school closures meaning child care becomes an issue. Employee safety is the paramount concern for any business and therefore offering the flexibility to work from home means staff need take no risks in getting to the office.
We’ve explained in previous blogs what the cloud is and some of the advantages of moving to cloud-based solutions. The cloud certainly offers some advantages when it comes to a cold weather plan.
If you are 100% cloud-based staff can work from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection. This means there should be little or no loss of productivity even if a staff member cannot make it into the office.
If you are not using cloud-based solutions, then it may be possible to remote in to on-premises servers so that staff can work. However, this needs setting up and configuring before bad weather hits. It is also advisable to regularly test the connection once it is set-up rather than waiting until it is needed to find out that configurations have changed!
Make sure you’ve got the right equipment
Whilst the cloud makes remote working easier you shouldn’t take for granted that staff have a suitable PC at home. The most common issue is those with a Mac at home trying to work with a Windows based environment.
It is worth having a few laptops that can be issued to key staff in the event of an emergency. It might also be a consideration when refreshing IT as to whether you choose desktop or laptops for staff.
A VoIP telephone system also offers certain advantages in the event of extreme weather. Phones can be diverted to mobiles via an app, with the caller completely unaware that you are out of the office.
How We Can Help
It may be too late to put in a solution for the predicted snow tonight. However, the 30-day forecast indicates that we may well be in for further snow during February. So, give us a call or fill in the contact form for a free informal chat about your IT systems and your cold weather plans.