Hurricane season is officially upon us. Whether or not your business is in an area prone to hurricanes, it’s wise to be prepared for the unexpected. Though the threats vary by location, no business is immune to some sort of hazard.
Natural disasters include hurricane, tornado, flood, forest fire, hail, rainstorm, and snowstorm. Manmade disasters include terrorist attack, hostage situation, arson, quarantine, travel restriction, fuel shortage, chemical spill, health epidemic, explosion, and so forth.
This list is not to scare you, but to make you think. We tend to assume business conditions will continue as usual, but this isn’t always the case. When disaster strikes will your business continue operating? Will your business survive?
While the details vary with the situation, here are some general disaster preparedness considerations:
Also, depending on your location, a lack of heat or air conditioning may make working conditions difficult or even unsafe. The lack of clean water and a working sewer system is a problem anywhere.
Any of these situations may require your staff to leave your office. Without a backup plan, this will force you to temporarily close. And remember, the longer a business is shutdown, the greater the likelihood it will never reopen.
If this happens, do you have a backup location? Can staff work from home? Develop a contingency plan for that includes a communication plan for connecting with your team.
Using a cloud based applications or a colocation (colo) facility to have a copy of your files or better a redundant server running all of your apps is a great way get to your software when you need it. Have a remote backup storage site or use cloud-based storage to resolve this concern.
If a disaster affects your business, it will likely affect your staff as well. They may need to attend to personal issues at home or with their family. If half your staff can’t work, can you scale back your operation, or will your business cease to function?
During a disaster, communication systems are often overwhelmed. Sometimes they are compromised. Don’t assume you will have internet access or reliable cell phone coverage. Landlines may be more resilient, and dedicated circuits are best.
Your call center or answering service can play an essential communication role in your disaster plan. Make sure they are aware of your expectations and are ready to handle your emergency communication needs.
Consider these issues in advance. Assume disaster will happen at some point or to some extent. Plan accordingly. Document your plan, and make staff aware of it. Then run tests, and practice it.
Also consider key vendors, specifically your answering service. Make sure they also have a disaster plan in place. A key element in their plan should be multiple locations in different geographic settings to serve as critical backup sites.
Make sure your answering service has these types of back up provisions in place and is ready when disaster strikes.