If there is one thing you've likely learned over the last several weeks, it is that the world can turn completely upside down in the blink of an eye. At this time last year you would have never assumed that businesses around the globe would be shuttered and not able to function as normal. For companies prepared for this kind of situation, the recent orders may not have had too much of an impact. However, if your company had not prepared for such an event you were likely left scrambling, trying to figure out ways to keep the business running and your employees working. Hopefully, if this sounds like your business, you were able to pivot quickly enough to come up with a plan of action (or inaction). Regardless of where you find yourself now though, you need to prepare your business for future emergencies. You, your employees, and your business depend on it.
Above all else, you need to make sure everyone in your company is safe. Sometimes an emergency isn't simply you and your employees being forced to stay home. Regardless of the emergency, you need to establish several basics to ensure the health and safety of everyone's wellbeing. This includes:
Sometimes an emergency might happen within the building. Perhaps there's a fire or another serious issue and everyone needs to leave the property. Having everyone running and trying to get out will only lead to chaos. Instead, have an established evacuation plan. This should include not only a route to take to leave the building and get to safety, but where to meet. The plan and meeting place will make it easier for you to keep track of your employees.
You should update your emergency contacts at least once a year. In the event of an inner-office emergency or health scare you'll have information on hand to contact someone. You'll also be able to contact your employees if you are separated.
The emergency kit should include some basics, just in case you and your employees are forced to remain in the building for an extended period of time. This should include first aid equipment, a radio (battery powered), bottled water, flashlight, nonperishable food, and, depending on where you are, some blankets. It's always best to prepare for the worst possible situation. Chances are it will never happen, but if it does, you'll be prepared.
The health and wellbeing of your employees is job number one. However, job number two is to protect your business. After the dust settles you and your employees will need to get back to work. To do this you want to secure critical business records. One of the best ways to do this is to have a cloud storage system. Using a cloud storage system ensures you'll be able to recover your files, no matter what happens within the business. If you have physical hard copies you absolutely can't replicate, you should invest in a safe that is both fire and water proof and secure the hard copies in this safe.
If your employees were forced to work from home during the spring 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, you may have received a crash course in working from home. Hopefully it turned out, for the most part, okay. Chances are though you found issues with your workflow, level of communication, or even how you deliver parts, goods, and services to your customers. Make sure to connect with all your employees and go over ways they believe working from home can improve.
There are different forms of technology you need to have in place to maximize your work from home potential. Some of these kinds of technology include:
For starters, you need to have a cloud network setup if you don't have one already. This makes it possible for everyone to access the files and work they need to accomplish. You also need to test all of this out ahead of time. Forcing employees to learn new software during an emergency pandemic or other event is time consuming and it zaps productivity. Knowing this ahead of time will help.
Next, there needs to be strong communication. In addition to a plan for triaging your published business phone lines, you’ll want to look at some form of chat or instant messaging service that all your employees can use. This way, everyone can stay directly connected without relying on mass text-chains.
You'll want a central calendar everyone can access. This will help keep everyone up to date with what is going on at an organizational or corporate level. And, lastly, you'll want video conferencing. For extended stay-at-home periods it is important to create digital, human connections.
Every business is unique, so how you prepare will be different from the company across the street. Whatever you do, it's always important to plan for the worst possible situation. This way, no matter what happens, you and your employees will be ready. We hope this give you a good jumping off point, or checklist, for where to start these conversations!