Although spring and summer bring with them their own weather problems, winter can be especially nasty. While a fire or flooding can threaten business continuity for several days, winter storms can stretch on for weeks—even months.
Winter storms also bring with them a wide variety of threats. We pulled the following common winter dangers straight from NOAA:
- Wind – Some winter storms have extremely strong winds that can create blizzard conditions with blinding, wind-driven snow, drifting, and dangerous wind chills. These intense winds can bring down trees and poles, and cause damage to homes and other buildings.
- Snow – Heavy snow accumulations can immobilize a region, strand motorists, stop the flow of supplies, and disrupt emergency services. Buildings may even collapse, and trees and power lines can be destroyed by heavy snow.
- Ice – Ice-covered roads make for dangerous driving conditions. Car wrecks can bring down objects like trees, utility poles, and communication towers. Winter can disrupt power for days before utility companies can repair the damage.
Winter weather can disrupt everyday life and business operations for days, even weeks. Is your company ready? Do you have the systems in place to respond to every phase of a winter storm? AlertMedia has the capabilities to help your organization manage every phase of a winter storm and keep your people safe before, during, and after it hits.
Phase One: Track Threats Before the Storm Hits
If there is one upside to winter storms, it’s that nowadays, they typically come with some warning. Unlike some seasonal threats, like wildfires, winter storms can be forecast—meaning you should never be caught completely off guard.
Anyone with kids, though, knows the limitations of weather forecasts—especially when it comes to winter storms. The reason that schools typically wait until the wee hours of the morning to decide whether to cancel is because you never know the true extent of the danger until the storm hits.
This unpredictability becomes even more of a challenge when you have to account for traveling employees or multiple office locations. Keeping track of the threats to your local office is one thing. By vigilantly checking local news and following travel safety recommendations, you can stay on top of regional threats. But the reality is, that is often only half the battle. With the modern dispersed workforce, it’s not enough to track winter weather threats in one city—you need to be able to track the myriad of threats that could impact all of your geographically dispersed employees.
Tracking such a wide array of threats manually is simply not feasible. For this reason, many companies rely on threat monitoring software to track these types of threats automatically.
Threat monitoring software cross-references a constantly updating global database of threats against your employee’s locations. As soon as a threat emerges that could impact one or more of your employees—say, a blizzard starts to form that could impact two of your employees on a business trip in Chicago—the software will immediately send you a warning, describing the threat and telling you which employees are impacted. You can even have the system automatically warn those people directly.
Using software like this before a storm hits makes sure you won’t be caught off guard by any winter storm. Likewise, if there are specific impacts of the storm—like road closures, flight delays, or road closures—you will be the first to know. Threat monitoring software like AlertMedia puts you in the best position to act swiftly and decisively in the face of a winter storm.
Phase Two: Communicate Clearly When the Storm Hits
Once the storm arrives, it’s time to put your plan into action. Your employees need to know whether to come to work, where it’s safe to drive, and how they can expect to receive updates.
The best tool you can use to facilitate quick and clear communication is notification templates. By pre-loading message templates into your emergency communication system, you can save valuable time and effort when the storm hits.
Managing a winter storm is always a headache—you need to be constantly tracking local news so you can make smart, real-time decisions to keep your business running and your people safe. What you don’t want to have to do is draft all of your employee-facing communication from scratch. Templates will give you the basic backbone of your message for every delivery channel, so that you can devote your time and energy to making the decisions that matter.
If your organization does not have winter weather templates already, you can download ours here! These templates will give you effective messaging you can use to manage every phase of a winter storm.
Once you have filled in the templates and are ready to send the messages, make sure to do so over multiple channels—text and email at the very least. While your standard practice may be to communicate via email-only, winter storms are no time for standard practice. You need to make sure all of your employees get your message before they try to come in to work. They won’t mind the buzz on their cell phone when it’s a message telling them to stay off the roads due to icy conditions.
Phase Three: Keep Employees Updated After the Storm Hits
After the initial panic is sorted out, your employees will likely have a lot of questions.
- When is the office re-opening?
- Is it safe to drive?
- How long is the storm expected to last?
You won’t have answers to all these questions right away. But it’s your job to make sure that as the storm develops and you can answer these questions, you pass that information on to your people.
This is where Event Pages come in. An Event Page is a real-time information hub to link companies with their employees during any event, particularly an ongoing situation where the flow of information is constant. This allows you to direct your employees to a single webpage where they can find the most up-to-date information.
Think of an Event Page like a social media page, dedicated strictly to a single event. The page can be named “January 2018 Winter Storm,” for example. An administrator can quickly set up the page from their AlertMedia dashboard and automatically send every affected employee a message with a link directing them to the Event Page. Admins can then update the page continuously without having to send a new notification every time something changes.
Whether it be a blizzard, power outage, road closure, or office closure, this will put all of the related information in one place—with no limits to message length. Employees visit a single page where they can find updates, photos and videos, pertinent documents, and even moderated employee comment streams.
You can also include advice, such as safety tips for working in cold weather, or information on the steps your business is taking to prepare for the storm.
While an Event Page may not enable an organization to get the power turned on or roads cleared any faster, it can ensure employees stay connected and informed in real-time. When the business is able to open again, employees will be ready. Organizations can use Event Pages to stay resilient and responsive, while others are struggling to manage the winter storm.
By implementing a mass communication system like AlertMedia, you can make sure that your business is ready for every phase of a winter storm. From the first ominous weather forecast to the day the final snow melts away, having a plan in place and a system to support it will help you maintain employee safety and business continuity.
Interested in how AlertMedia can help your business this winter?