Is your business ready for hurricane season?

September 20, 2016

Learn what successful businesses do to recover quickly

With both Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons at peak activity levels (60% of all hurricanes to strike the US in 1851-2015 occurred in September & October), the risk of major hurricane hitting the coastal areas of the US remains palpable and should not be underestimated.

Hurricane Hermine, the first hurricane to hit Florida in a decade, already brought severe flooding and devastation in Florida earlier this month including power outages to nearly 300,000 homes and businesses. Developments of tropical storms Karl and Thirteen in the Atlantic and tropical storm Paine in the Pacific are currently being monitored by the National Hurricane Center.

The danger which hurricane season poses to the US economy is well-known given past disasters such as hurricane Sandy and hurricane Katrina. Sandy’s estimated impact of $50bn was second only to Hurricane Katrina which brought devastation with an estimated impact of $108bn. Nearly 23,000 New York City businesses employing 245,000 people were impacted by Hurricane Sandy and many struggled to restart operations.

Businesses located in risk areas need to have contingency plans in case their premises are inaccessible or otherwise affected by a hurricane. While many businesses have IT and infrastructure-focused recovery plans in place, the importance of people recovery is often overlooked until it’s too late. Given that employees are the most important asset of any organisation, it is crucial that businesses are prepared and have plans for their staff recovery so that they can continue functioning in critical times.

By following the steps outlined below before, during and after disaster, businesses can ensure they are prepared to handle challenging situations and take appropriate care of their employees:

Before disaster
  • Agree alternative workplace arrangements – identify suitable locations in case your premises are affected and ensure they are equipped to welcome your employees
  • Communicate expectations and educate employees about what is expected of them in case of crisis – update employee handbook, hold staff meetings, prepare and deliver training and ensure employees have plans for their families
  • Put together a communication plan – ensure contact information for each employee is available and everyone can be reached if necessary
  • Agree staff policies – identify employees in critical functions, define work from home arrangements for non-critical staff and train more employees in critical tasks

At times of disaster
  • Contact all employees and ensure they know what they need to do – ensure employees are safe and familiar with their individual work arrangements
  • Ensure safety of any employees on site – prepare any emergency supplies and be ready to initiate evacuation procedures and contact emergency help, if necessary

After disaster
  • Communicate with employees – ensure employees are safe and know when and where they are expected to return to work. If staff are expected to use an alternative location, ensure it’s ready for their arrival and they are able to access it
  • Provide employee assistance where applicable – be ready to support employees who were significantly affected by the disaster and be sensitive to their concerns

To learn more about workplace recovery and how successful businesses prepare for disasters, download our whitepaper and our workplace recovery checklist.

For further information on how Regus can help your organisation plan and prepare for hurricane season, please contact our team

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