Is Your Company Prepared for an Emergency?
Working remotely has become very popular in recent years
Many businesses allow employees to work remotely once or twice a week. Many businesses require everyone to be in the same location working together for specific reasons. A business that does not normally find it conducive to have people work remotely, should have an emergency plan in place for an unexpected event that makes it necessary.
We recently experienced this first hand — there was a storm in our area that was unexpected
Trees were hit by lightning and split, some were uprooted, branches snapped, and windows broken and blown out. Streets were blocked by fallen trees and branches and traffic lights were out, causing it to be difficult to get around. The building where our office is located in was hit hard. Windows were blown out, flooding the inside of many offices and the first floor had furniture overturned. The electricity was out and the building became dangerous to occupy, with broken glass in many offices. We fund businesses through invoice factoring, and our clients need to be funded weekly. We were lucky, only one office in our suite was destroyed, and it was on Sunday, which resulted in no one being injured. The office next to us was completely under water and all windows blown out, damaging equipment and files.
We had previously taken some time to come up with a plan for an emergency such as this, and, immediately put it into action
Everyone was familiar with the plan and we made some calls and everyone came together to assist in the emergency. We made arrangements to move to the location we had set up in advance. We took computers, servers, printers, files, banking necessities and everything we needed to make it easier to serve our clients doing business as usual. We transferred our phones to our remote office so we could answer calls and continue business as normal as possible. The move took place within about two hours. on Sunday afternoon, and Monday morning we were ready to go. We sent emails to our clients explaining our situation and updated them as the week progressed. We learned the importance of our emergency plan, which in the 40 years we have been in business, we had never had to implement. Our entire staff worked together patiently and as a team to make it a successful week, which would not have been the case had we not been prepared.
Emergency planning is important and following are some things to consider:
- Insurance –your office and equipment should be covered by insurance.
- The ability to move computers, servers and files and/or have laptops for employees.
- Have software available on the cloud, as well as client information.
- Keep a hard copy list of clients and contacts that can be easily reached.
- Have a location that is easily accessible and has wireless connections and phone capabilities. A good option is an office suite. They are usually furnished and have copiers and other office machines available.
- Have emergency numbers for employees so you can let them know about the situation if they are not at work on that day.
Prepare your business for emergencies by holding a meeting with your management staff
Consider all of the things that keep your business running smoothly, and list what is necessary on a daily basis. Consider documents such as client lists and employee lists that you may need to access quickly. Make copies or put these on flash drives and take them home with you so that you can access them if necessary. Have a plan to contact your employees and customers in the event of an emergency.
Management should hold a meeting and go over Disaster Recovery Plans usually provided by your office building management. It is a good idea to create your own Emergency Protocol and Disaster Recovery Plan and have both in writing in a binder easy to reach. Each employee should also be familiar with these plans. In the event of an emergency or disaster, it is important that everyone works together for a common goal. Knowledge is the key to everyone being able to do their job effectively and in a safe location.
Plans should include protecting office equipment, computers, servers, and items of importance when there is impending inclement weather that poses a threat. Protecting equipment and files can be as simple as purchasing heavy-duty bins with lids that can protect things temporarily or for an extended period, and are easy to move if necessary. Office equipment should be unplugged and, if possible, moved to a safe (interior) place in the office when inclement, damaging weather is possible.
Depending on your business, there may be other considerations. It is important to take the time to put a plan in place. Hopefully, you will never need it, but in the event you do, you will be prepared and can continue business as usual without too much interruption or disruption.
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A Fresh Start: Keeping Your Employees Healthy and More Productive
A tidy and sanitary office is crucial for quality work. Distraction lowers productivity, even on a subconscious level. Studies have also shown that business offices are a breeding ground for germs causing illness, which takes employees away from work, lowering productivity and work quality.
A clean desk has shown to increase productivity. Stacks of papers and files and other items cause clutter, which also clutters your mind. It is recommended that after a task is completed, it is filed in the proper place. How many times have you thought, “where is that file, or paper”? It is estimated that workers spend over 4 hours a week looking for misplaced items and correcting mistakes. If someone else needs the file, it will be easily found if it is returned to the proper place. Productivity goes down and anxiety goes up when you are not able to locate what you need to complete the next task. Filing things and putting supplies and other items away will create a more open workspace which will result in less mistakes being made. Mistakes lessen productivity requiring a task to be done over. A clean work area, uncluttered the mind as well and also makes things easily accessible.
The bottom line is that a healthy and productive workplace is not just keeping things in their place and immediately replacing files and other important papers. it is important to keep things like your computer, keyboard and other equipment clean and free of clutter. 10 sticky notes on your computer is cluttered are likely to fall to the floor. Having too many personal items on your desk is also detrimental. Put one personal item and find a shelf for other items you feel you need in your office. Employers should also require cleaning of electronic equipment, not only for health reasons, but for the maintenance and longevity of the equipment. A printer full of dust is going to break down. A keyboard with grime and bacteria will also stop working and will grow bacteria causing illness. You touch multiple files and papers, pens and other things in an office. Imagine the germs lurking from everyone that has touched these things. Keep hand sanitizer in the office as well. Healthy and organized employees are always more productive.
A sanitary and clear workspace makes for a clear mind and healthy body that can focus on tasks at hand. If you have to go through stacks of paper looking for that one thing you cannot find, you will become anxious and frustrated, likely ending in a mistake. And, if there is bacteria on your desk and computer and throughout the office, illness is eminent, which will impede productivity.
Take some time before the new year and get everyone to spend some time cleaning and organizing the office. It will make for a fresh, productive start to the new year.
Spend some time at the end of the year discussing this with your employees and involve them in cleaning the office. Cleaning companies do basics and will not make your office sanitary. It will make for a fresh, more productive office and healthy employees who are at work and able to do their job. Start the new year off right!