Winter Isn’t Always Pretty
We like to think of the winter scenes we may see on a holiday card – peaceful, joyful, beautiful, and full of cheer. While this may be so, it’s more likely to be chaotic with a few Grinches sprinkled in for good measure. And when it comes to work productivity during the winter months, it can be an even less promising scene.
Winter storms have a history of wreaking havoc on the economy. After a 2015 New England winter storm, economists calculated the hit to the economic output was a staggering $1.25 billion. Much of the productivity loss is attributed to workers simply not being able to get to work due to poor road conditions. Of course, they’ll eventually make up the work over time, but the disruption to normal business operations can’t be understated.
Companies can’t fix the weather, but they can put into place a winter weather communications plan to ensure employees from across their company, remote or onsite, know what to do when bad weather hits. Depending on how your organization is structured, you may have a skeleton crew who has one set of instructions to follow during the office shutdown, executives with a different checklist, and local employees with completely different expectations.
If you want to keep your office running as smoothly as possible, no matter the weather, follow these tips. Your employees will thank you and your administrators, managers, and business leaders will appreciate the forethought.
Tip 1: Keep Contact Information Updated
We all know that when an emergency or an urgent situation arises, we want information and we want it now. Companies should take the time to establish a communication plan with accurate contact information. Relying on an outdated employee directory that can only be accessed from an office desktop computer doesn’t help anyone stranded at home.
Instead, use an integrated communication system that can target important messaging to specific audiences. Notifications can be sent via multiple channels, including push notifications, texts, emails, voice calls, and intranet updates. No matter where your employees may be, you can be certain they receive the information and have a way to respond. They will be able to get back to work with fewer delays, putting less of a dent in that productivity stat.
Tip 2: Stay in the Know
Weather can change in an instant. As an office administrator or safety director, it may be up to you to determine whether or not the road conditions are safe for your employees to use. Don’t assume your employees are watching the local news feeds waiting to see if their workplace is mentioned as having a closure. Don’t depend on hearsay, either. Your employees need to hear it directly from you.
Set up weather alerts to help you make real-time decisions about road conditions, then communicate your decision rapidly across multiple communication channels using an emergency communication system. Your employees will receive a text, push notification, email, and/or phone call notifying them of the road conditions, modified business hours, and even a phone number they can call with any questions. As the weather conditions change, send updates to keep employees informed throughout the event.
Tip 3: Be Ready to Make Decisions
Before and during a weather event, business leaders need to be in constant communication to be on the same page. It can be challenging to get every stakeholder on a phone call and emails are grossly inefficient. There’s no way to ensure everyone involved received and read the email, and following the multiple responses in the order they were sent can be a challenge.
The first step is to develop a list of roles and responsibilities per person – who will be assigned as lead communicator, decision maker(s), point person or people, etc. This list should be developed well ahead of any threat of bad weather. Once the weather hits, you want to have the plan and people ready to go. Use a communication system to keep everyone connected to quickly collaborate on decisions. This will save precious time and allow people to be more productive, even when the weather comes.
Tip 4: Have Resources Ready
Part of the planning process is to have the actual plan ready before the event occurs. Anticipate every potential scenario – what if the roads are impassable for one day? For three days? What if the power at the office is interrupted? What if some employees can make it to work and others can’t? What if employees can get to work but all of the schools are shut down?
Work through these different scenarios so you aren’t scrambling when the ice begins to form. This plan may change per season, therefore it’s a good idea to have different action plans for the type of threat. Be sure to include possible alternate routes, specific point people employees can contact, and any opportunities to enable employees to work from home. You may also want to talk with your building supervisor to see what plans they have in place to keep the parking lot accessible and power and plumbing in working order.
Tip 5: Use Technology to Your Advantage
Technology has come a long way, even in the past several years. Email may have been the technology of choice in the past, but today, a comprehensive communication system is the technology of choice for most companies. Why? It offers infinitely more flexibility, functionality, scalability, and something email simply can’t provide – instant communications you know are getting through.
AlertMedia’s communication platform gives organizations the ultimate solution for internal communications. Our system allows users to send employees notifications, alerts, and updates quickly and easily across all communication channels simultaneously or specifically. Segment your population to send messages only to the employees who need to receive them, and then track open rates to ensure every employee is in the know.
Most recently, AlertMedia introduced Event Pages as a feature of the platform. Now, organizations can develop their own web page per event and send employees the link to the page where they can find every detail they need to follow the event. From up-to-the-minute updates to maps, instructions per business unit or location, and even a public forum, employees never have to wonder what’s going on or what they are supposed to do. Every piece of information is available 24/7 in one place.
Is It Worth It?
New technology is sometimes intimidating. A common question is, “Do we really need it?” When it comes to an emergency, most definitely, the answer is “YES.” Organizations who have implemented a mass notification system report a 72 percent higher readiness when a critical situation strikes. It’s that readiness that helps companies get back to business as usual faster, ensure productivity doesn’t suffer, and most importantly, employees are kept safe.
If you’re digging out from snow already or know it’s coming, consider a mass communication system that can keep everyone connected, informed, and safe. It’s priceless peace of mind and a boon for productivity.