You never think that a natural disaster will affect your area—until one does. Natural disasters have been devastating in 2017. From fires on the west coast to hurricanes on the Gulf Coast. Our home base here in Houston was left unharmed by Hurricane Harvey in August, but that was not true for some of our employees. Before we knew it, we were back to business as usual in part because we had a plan. That plan gave us guidelines on how to accommodate for employees and ensured the office was fully operational within days.
Without an emergency plan for your business and employees, you will find yourself scrambling to prepare and making last-minute decisions that could endanger your assets and employees. Here are three things to consider when drafting your emergency plan:
Employee safety comes first. Always.
Your office most likely already has an inclement weather policy. When the roads begin to flood or driving conditions are unsafe, most businesses will close their doors for the day. A natural disaster can complicate things. Once the rain has stopped, that doesn’t mean that the roads will be driveable Remember, your neighborhood could be dry while your employees’ are still underwater.
Business must go on, but your employees’ safety must remain your first priority. Some employees may need a few days before they are able to get back to work, while others can’t make it to the office but are capable of completing their duties. Consider creating a telecommuting policy that is used during inclement weather and natural disasters. If your office is affected by a disaster, you might consider contacting a local coworking space to provide a temporary office to employees.
Take physical assets to safety or are duplicated.
If your company has physical documents, make sure they have been digitized and stored in cloud-based storage. Other physical assets should be protected as well. For example, if a hurricane is coming your way, ask for employees to help place their computers and other electronic equipment on a higher floor of your building or on high shelves. If high winds are a factor, take precaution to board up windows. Before leaving to hunker down, don’t forget to lock all doors and windows and set your alarms. Disasters are prime time for looting.
Plan for moving forward.
The storm has settled. Now what? Your customers will expect you to bounce right back, and you must continue providing a livelihood for your employees. Make sure you have a plan for getting back up to speed. That might mean overtime for employees, working remotely, and creating a plan that relaunches departments in phases.
Hurricane Harvey affected tens of thousands of employers throughout Southeast Texas. Click here to learn how you can help people affected by Harvey.