Well, Irma has passed. While it was scary, I was hunkered down with 16 other people plus three dogs and three cats; so thankful my sister has a big house. I was filled with worry about how my house would survive – wasn’t able to get back to it until late last night as our county had a mandatory curfew in place (although it seems a good majority of people didn’t heed that as some restaurants were already crowded with people wanting food).
I had some tree branches down and a tree that broke, along with a fence panel, but not too bad; my one blessing is that we did not lose power. Several of my neighbors had more damage but we survived.
The one problem is that my office building did lose power, as well as all those in my area. This can be quite catastrophic from a financial perspective to our businesses. For myself, I am able to conduct coaching sessions on the phone, but there are doctors and other offices who cannot. From my opinion, I don’t think if a lot of thought was given as to the aftermath and what people would be facing once over.
From an employee perspective, if you have difficulty getting to work due to traffic hazards or house damage, call your employer to see what work you can do from home or from the local library (this is how I worked without power when Charley hit). Internet providers (most) have service and you can conduct some business from there.
From an employer perspective, send out policies and notices for how business will be conducted so your employees know how they will complete work tasks. Let them know if they are able to work at home, come in late, or how they can make-up work, as needed. Ease their mind on this so there’s no questions or problems later. Striving to return to normal operations should be the goal.
Situations, such as this, should give businesses much thought as to how they will keep them afloat for future disruptions, as anything could happen. Some areas for future planning to consider include:
- working virtually – working from home, co-locating with another functional business, space/hours at the library, setting up operations from another predetermined location
- temporary job rotations – allowing workers to do other functions, such as marketing/social media, taking over when another worker isn’t able to
- working online – while most don’t have power, they usually still have internet and can do work from there, or make phone calls. Are there tasks you haven’t gotten to? well, now you can have the manpower and time to get them done
- setting up an intranet where you can communicate with workers easily
- having a resource center to help employees with both pre- and post-planning; many will have clean-up to do, so look at relationships you can build with those businesses who can give priority to your workers. Include your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) in this to help those dealing with stress and anxiety during this time
- identify leaders, even temporary ones, who can take over and ensure work functions continue on. You could consider assigning so many employees to a supervisor who can communicate and direct them to lessen confusion and stress
I think Hurricane Harvey was a wake-up call for many of us, especially those of us in Florida, to always be prepared so we are stocked with supplies and resources and will lessen the panic many felt before the storm, and now we have the aftermath. Looking at how your business is structured and run will keep your operations running smoothly, and your workers calm and focused to get work accomplished. We all can weather any storm.
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