November 29, 2019
Picture this…the rain has been cascading down for days…the roads are flooded or the snow starts falling and doesn’t stop overnight. What do you do? Encourage your team to take the risk and travel into work or take a more sensible approach to work from home? The choice is yours; but really you only have the choice if you have the right systems and approaches in place to make it work for both you and them.
What is the best way to work remotely?
Running a small business can be tough, let alone when you throw in some business-stopping bad weather to make it even more challenging. But it is true that many businesses nowadays are opting for more fluidity with their working approach. Some elements of your team may be completely comfortable with operating remotely or working from home, but for others this may be unfamiliar territory. They may only occasionally have the need to do it, such as when the weather keeps them house bound.
Technology nowadays means it should not be too difficult to enable people to operate remotely, but preparation is key. Everything needs to be in place before it is needed, rather than creating a small panic because it is needed then and there, but the facilities are not in place.
How to get your small business prepared for bad weather?
Fortunately, bad weather doesn’t have to translate into bad business. The trick to staying ahead during inclement weather is to be ready. Assess your requirements and put steps in place to address them. This may involve requiring access to email, data and systems. Granted some of this particularly in-house systems may not be practical, but as a very minimum it is easy to make email accessible and keep communications with your customers open. While productivity might be slightly compromised, just maintaining access to emails can keep things going for the short term. Here are our simple steps to keeping your business going whatever might be thrown at you during the Winter:
1. Create a bad weather policy for your business
Use this to cover off how you will operate during inclement weather both for you and your employees. You could also use it to explore some of the expected eventualities. Normally there are weather warnings, so make it clear what will be expected in the eventuality of people not being able to make it into work as soon as a situation is potentially arising.
Solutions range from stressing that people should not make your way into work if it is dangerous to do so. Making sure they have access to essentials such as their work email via a smart phone or are familiar on how they could work remotely connecting to the network via speciality software, if required.
2. Stay on top of communications with customers
Consider having the ability to forward phone calls to your business to someone’s specific phone. The chances are if you are having problems then your customers are too, but if you can maintain a level of access then it will no doubt help you in the long run rather than dealing with the frustrations caused by customers having a phone which constantly ringing out.
Enable and actively encourage people to monitor their emails using their smart phones or computers at home.
3. Make sure essential data is backed up
Use the early warning of forecasting to back up your systems. Most small businesses rely on their computers to store a wealth of essential data. With our help you can make sure that these are always regularly backed up , particularly look to have servers and data in the cloud for extra security . While these might sound like expensive solutions for an infrequent situation, they are not really as much as you might think and are likely longer term to increase everyone’s operating effectiveness. Particularly as you can give everyone (or if needs be just the key people), remote access to computers and applications, so they can work from anywhere.
4. Stay informed about the conditions
Make sure you are signed up to any communication channels that will share important information then you won’t be caught by surprise. Use this to adjust your approach and communicate with your teams.
5. Get the message out there
Make sure you have the means to inform your employees of your thoughts for keeping the business going. This could be as simple as having messaging groups set up through WhatsApp or using more secure messaging tools. It is also important that if your customers are likely to want or need to get hold of you that you let them know the best way of doing that – be that by email, messages on social media or on your website.
The realities are that most businesses now have the ability to allow their people to work remotely in some form. In fact, technology now means that remote working is becoming more the norm and just as effective as being office based, often for the same or even less overall cost. The rise in use of Office365 and Google Apps is resulting in more and more ‘digital nomads’. However for those that are more office bound, an assessment of how they will operate remotely if they cannot make it in is a sensible approach for any SME.