November 26, 2015

Winter is here and it means business. With blustering winds, heavy rainfall and snow already falling in many parts of the country, SMEs need to prepare themselves for inevitable drops in productivity and in the worst case scenario, downtime.

Staff absences, late deliveries and even technology downtime brought about by harsh weather can stop you from getting work done, costing you thousands in lost productivity. However, by reviewing business continuity policies, business owners can put plans in place to help them cope in a crisis.

Keep tech in check:

  • Speak to your building manager about their winter weather plans. Will they keep the heating on to stop pipes from freezing? Is the building well insulated?
  • Make frequent backups. Keep daily backups onsite and weekly backups offsite on a removable hard drive. If possible, have two offsite backups that are kept in separate locations, just to be safe.
  • Put a redundancy plan in place. (Alternatively, ask your IT technician, most tech-minded employee or ourselves to create one for you.) Look at uninterruptable power supplies, cloud storage and remote working options.

Ice, snow and floods can cause chaos for the unprepared SME. All it takes is a frozen pipe bursting in the floor above to bring your company to a screeching halt. What’s worse, it could cause irreparable damage to your server and workstations in the process, potentially losing all of your work and leaving you with a hefty bill to replace all of that expensive hardware. That’s why it is imperative that you make daily backups that stay onsite and weekly backups that are taken offsite. Sadly, frequent backups can only save your data. They can’t save you from expensive repair bills or having to replace your bulky, powerful workstations altogether though.

The cloud can do all of these things and more. The biggest revolution in technology in the past decade, the cloud is constantly providing people and businesses with ways to streamline workflows, improve productivity and reduce expenditure. For instance, instead of investing in a top spec Mac Pro for your video editing work, you can take your workflow to the cloud instead. So, you can improve productivity whilst also reducing your electricity bill by using cheaper, ‘thin’ clients that (via the magic of the cloud) are just as powerful and easy to use as their fat, expensive, power hungry siblings.

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Make working from home less of a chore:

  • Have a remote working environment or server VPN (Virtual Private Network) set up, so staff can securely access important files outside of the office.
  • Speak to your employees and agree upon a payment contingency plan, in case they can’t make it into the office and cannot work from home.
  • Get everyone onto a conference calling network, such as Skype, so your staff can still communicate and collaborate on projects.

It’s not just your technology that can be affected by bad weather. In fact, your staff is more likely to be affected by the ‘inclement’ winter weather. They might get a nasty cold that develops into something worse. Their car might not start, leaving them stranded at home. Their kids school might be snowed under or flooded. However, just because your staff can’t get into the office, it shouldn’t mean they can’t get work done. With amazing technologies such as Virtual Desktop Infrastructures, your staff can work from the comfort of their couch. They can pop their feet up, pop the kettle on and get that all important document done by the deadline. They’re out of office, not out of luck.

However, if you don’t have a remote working scheme in place, you’ll need to consider whether to pay your employees in the event they’re unable to make it into work. Legally you’re under no obligation to pay an employee who fails to attend work, because they are in breach of their contract. However, this could have an impact on staff morale and productivity. Some companies choose to put schedules in place so employees can make up missed time. Although you’ll take a hit to productivity and your workload will increase, at least this way you can encourage staff to make up lost ground quickly and ensure no one has a smaller pay cheque at the end of the month.

Ensure deliveries stay on schedule:

Another important thing to remember: it’s not just employees that will struggle to make it to your office. Deliveries may also struggle to make it in and out of your office too. Bad weather, slow drivers and more post will put a heavy load on delivery networks and slow them down. This is incredibly important for Ecommerce companies, who rely solely on shipping their products (due to a lack of physical brick and mortar stores.)

If you send a lot of packages via post, it’s time to put some contingency plans in place:

  • Add a warning to your website to alert customers about the possibility of delayed deliveries.
  • Contact suppliers to ensure they are able to meet deadlines.
  • Create a list of alternative delivery methods and businesses, in case your preferred partner can’t meet your demands.
  • Organise and write a draft email in case you have to quickly warn your customers that their parcels will show up later than expected.

We know that winter weather can be a pain, but don’t let it become a nightmare. By being proactive and creating contingency plans, you can make sure productivity levels stay high when temperatures are low.

To speak to the Synextra Support Team about contingency plans, get in touch today.