The unusually harsh conditions descending on the UK will no doubt affect many businesses, as flooding, high winds and water damage can create additional risks for companies.
In a survey by FSB, two-thirds of the smallest businesses in the UK have been negatively affected by severe weather events, with the average cost of these events standing at £7,000. Tellingly, 46 per cent of small businesses had taken no action to manage risks related to severe weather, and only 25 per cent of microbusinesses have a resilience plan that includes severe weather.
The upcoming storms can impact businesses in four key ways:
1. Direct damage to operating facilities caused by heavy snow or rain, caused by situations like flooding, frozen pipes or roof damage
2. Downtime for offices due to infrastructure issues such as power cuts and road closures, which can last an indeterminate amount of time
3. Loss of data caused by server or communications room damage, which can have a lasting effect on a businesses’ ability to operate
4. Local suppliers, business partners, customers and employees’ homes being adversely impacted, which has a knock-on effect on your company’s operations
While you may prepare for natural disasters or extreme weather ahead of time, it does not mean that everything will always go according to plan. So, to ensure that your business is ready for the worst, here are some simple yet essential tips:
Firstly, ensure staff know what to do in the case of a disaster – their safety is your responsibility. Next, take steps to secure business data in the event of a disaster. Cloud backup services could save businesses from significant downtime. Deploy continuous off-site backup of data, applications, and server images, and ensure you have the ability to run IT operations in the cloud in case your facilities are compromised or staff can’t get to work.
Communication and education
Keep employees updated on resource availability and recovery status so they are ready to implement their part of your disaster recovery plan when required. Also, ensure that relevant employees know how to use your cloud backup services to restore data so your important files are not lost. Remember that usual methods of communication, such as email, may be compromised. A ‘call tree’ or ‘phone tree’ can share messages efficiently.
Enable your employees to work remotely from their mobile devices by providing access to cloud-based business apps.
Ensure that you have any necessary third-party contracts in place for external suppliers to take over. Contracts should include policies regarding order turnaround times, invoice processing, scheduled service visits and other activities likely to be affected by a storm.
In the wake of a major weather event, businesses should ensure that their policy covers all aspects of business continuity, rather than just damage and outage impacts. Contacting insurers in advance to confirm exactly what steps to take in the storm’s aftermath can help the process run smoothly.
Make sure that your business is prepared by creating layers of redundancy at all times. Create plans A, B, C and D, but also be prepared for the unexpected.
Andrew Stuart is EMEA managing director of backup and disaster recovery vendor Datto
For a more detailed disaster survival guide, visit http://www.datto.com/uk/resources/the-natural-disaster-survival-guide-for-businesses