Several days ago, the East Coast of the United States was struck by Winter Storm Jonas. It proved to be a blizzard like no other, dumping multiple feet of snow on several states. Dozens of cities virtually shut down, with businesses small and large closing their doors and halting all work. Hundreds of thousands of employees were unable to even leave their homes for several days.
So how would a storm like this affect your business? Or, if you were actually in the area affected by Jonas, how much profit and productivity did your company miss out on because of those days your employees couldn’t get in to work? Winter Storm Jonas provides us with a real-life example of just how important a comprehensive business continuity plan (BCP) is for the continuing growth of your business.
What is a BCP? What does it include? Why is it important? We want to provide answers to these questions and others so that your office can be prepared if you’re ever in a situation similar to the one being experienced on the East Coast.
What Is a BCP?
A business continuity plan is essentially a plan of action to follow in case something prevents work from occurring in the normal manner. This can encompass everything from a huge natural disaster that destroys the office entirely, to something as simple as a loss of power or the loss of internet in your office. Both large and small disasters like these can make it impossible for your company to proceed with business as usual, and so you need a plan to follow in these cases.
A BCP would include contingency plans for every conceivable scenario that would prevent or greatly limit the work being performed in your place of business. Let’s talk a bit more about what those plans should include.
What to Include
As we’ve mentioned, your BCP should ideally include a plan of action for every possible disaster that would affect your business. Depending on where you live, you may have to plan for blizzards, hurricanes, earthquakes, or any number of other natural disasters that are common in your area. You would also want to plan for “small” disasters, like power outages, office fires, and other incidents that would limit normal work. These plans should include:
- Other potential locations where work could be performed
- Which employees could work remotely
- What equipment would be needed to perform work remotely
- What work would have to be halted completely
- What work could be outsourced to other locations or companies
- Time it would take to get operations running again post-disaster
Other items may need to be included depending on your business and your location. Make sure to do plenty of research so that you can ensure your BCP is comprehensive. This is also the time to think about how your employees will be able to access necessary documents when they can’t get to the office. If you don’t already have a system in place to handle such a situation, contact us.
Why It Matters
So, why does all of this matter anyways? It’s really quite simple. Mapping out such items in advance will allow you to keep your business running (even if it is only in a reduced capacity) in the event that employees cannot come to the office. This helps to minimize loss of profits and productivity until things can return to normal.
As an example, imagine this very common, highly probable situation: The business day has started as normal, when suddenly, the power to your office goes out. You investigate the situation only to discover that the construction going on down the street has accidentally taken out your power line. It’s unclear when power will be restored. Now what do you do? Do you keep your employees sitting around, hoping the power will come back on? Do you just send them home?
Having a BCP allows you to have a plan of action already established so you know exactly how to handle the situation, and your employees know exactly what is expected of them. Those that can perform work remotely can pack up their laptops and head home, quickly returning to work from a different location. You don’t have to waste time and wages by having your employees sitting around, waiting for instructions. When you have dozens of employees, even an hour of lost productivity can cost you quite a lot of money.
So, are you ready in the event of a natural disaster like Winter Storm Jonas? How would your company fare in such a situation? If you’re feeling unprepared, give us a call. We can help you establish a means of sharing documents and information quickly and easily, regardless of where your employees are working from. With this in place, you’ll be one step closer to having a comprehensive BCP in place.