Business
Nov 24, 2022

Winter Preparations That ought to be Made By Every Business

This blog post will be an eye-opener for business owners gearing up for winter as they search for optimal conditions to keep operations running smoothly.

Poonkuzhale K

Winter Preparations That ought to be Made By Every Business

Keep it warm

The famous quote of Benjamin Franklin, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," will fit perfectly for this topic.

Winter is one of the most challenging seasons in the business world. From blizzards, icy rain, and snowstorms to freezing temperatures and whiteout conditions, building owners and managers must rely heavily on technology and equipment to keep their businesses running safely and efficiently during these times. Whether you own an SME or supervise employees, winter storms can be one of the most challenging events to plan for. Regardless of how severe or mild, they interrupt regular business hours and disrupt your employees, clients, visitors, and other community members. So ensure that you plan for the season by keeping your business, property, and employees safe. 

If you own a business, this article will light on the precautions you need to organize your enterprise for the cold season.

Before looking into the solutions, let's find the operations that may impact your business in winter.

Communications

It would be best if you rapidly reached out to everyone in your organization with an update in the event of severe winter weather. If you are still getting ready, relaying information about problems that arise outside business hours in the event of weather delays can be challenging.

With the help of an emergency alert system, you may instantly contact the people who matter most in your organization and their staff. Businesses that count solely on email and call trees need help maintaining open communication lines when dealing with a large workforce.

Supply chains

Whether you work for a multinational conglomerate or a small family firm, you'll inevitably have to interact with various suppliers. The more a company's reliance on its suppliers, the more challenging it can be to monitor their performance and control the associated risk.

Reduced income and higher costs are only some of the potential dangers if you need to know where your suppliers' vulnerabilities lie. You also risk losing credibility with investors and other key stakeholders if you can't anticipate the impact of a winter weather catastrophe on your business.

Transportation

Businesses that rely significantly on transportation are always in trouble during winter storms because of the widespread disruption to travel. If a storm hits one of a company's distribution centers, it could affect business across the country.

Suppose road vehicles cannot deliver goods on time due to inclement weather. In that case, it can have far-reaching consequences for the supply chain and revenue, so having a continuity plan to provide alternative shipping methods during the winter can help protect against losses.

Accidental safety of the building

Having your headquarters in the center of a hurricane or tornado might be disastrous for your business's infrastructure. Any destruction of expensive equipment or the building itself will not come cheaply.

What's more, if the weather causes damage while your workers are on the job, they could be hurt. The risk of workplace accidents and injuries can be reduced if the practice is taken to identify potential hazards such as structural weaknesses or loose roof tiles.

Staffing shortages

Winter weather might generate problems for your workforce and technical and logistical issues.

Snow, ice, and flooding can force the cancellation of public transportation and the closure of roads, causing significant delays and difficulties for travelers. Workers who can't telecommute will have to figure out how to get to the office, assuming they can get there at all.

The inability to get about could be a problem for your workers and the people they rely on. The unexpected winter weather has closed schools and made it challenging to contact regular childminders, leaving parents unable to get to work without alternative childcare arrangements.

Winter Preparations

Organize an emergency plan for winter conditions

A business continuity strategy to deal with weather-related catastrophes is crucial for your team's safety. Conditions of extreme weather might suddenly become quite dangerous with no prior notice. You can then clearly identify who is accountable for taking action by assigning and documenting essential roles and duties.

A good emergency plan for winter weather should equip your personnel with the necessary resources to respond quickly and efficiently. Your strategy needs to:

  • Put in place secure channels of communication.
  • Establish procedures outlining the end time for business.
  • Plan whether or not workers should stay on the job and how they will continue doing their jobs.
  • Prepare your property for snow removal.
  • Equip your building facilities with necessities like fuel and backup generators.

In addition to developing your winter emergency plan, it is a good idea to communicate with your suppliers to determine whether they have procedures to deal with severe weather. If they don't, you should find out why not; if you're ready for unexpected cold weather but your suppliers aren't, your business will suffer.

Clear communication is essential

Keeping your staff informed and avoid misunderstandings that could put someone in harm's way due to carelessness all hinges on effective communication. Setting up a specific line of communication, such as an emergency messaging platform, reduce the time spent keeping key stakeholders informed and prevent any potential for miscommunication within the team.

However, keep in mind that the most effective forms of communication always include some feedback. A two-way communications system allows for more accurate updates, which might be used to pinpoint those who are now at risk and take appropriate action.

If bad weather forces you to close the store for the day, your employees must get home. The Homesafe software suite allows you to respond rapidly to transportation needs in an emergency. This safe hub will notify the appropriate people in the event of an emergency and connect you with licensed drivers and reliable vehicles. As an added layer of security, you can track every trip to ensure your workers get where they need to go without incident.

Educate your employees to download efficient weather, live-road, health, and emergency mobile apps and be cautious and updated regularly during this season.

Test it out

Knowing if your company is in a position to handle the implications of cold weather is essential for saving it. Companies can simulate challenging conditions to gauge how they would fare.

Regular testing like this is an integral part of BCM(business continuity manager) since it allows you to fix any flaws in your winter weather emergency preparations before they're exploited in a real disruption. 

For testing, consider the following strategies:

1. Implement a Trial of Remote Office Space

During extreme weather, your staff will miss the office. It's vital to ensure your employees who need to work from home have access to company-owned software and storage and the gear necessary to do their jobs from anywhere.

2. Perform a test of the data backup

An organization's data replication tools and procedures can be evaluated with a backup and recovery test. This is a good indicator if your company is still waiting to retrieve critical data in an emergency.

3. Call cascade

Using a call cascade, you can forward calls from a specific office extension to a particular external phone, such as a mobile. Because of this, crucial staff members may be reached at any time. Avoid potential hiccups in communication by checking that everything is running well ahead of time.

4. Workout on the tabletop

This tabletop exercise gathers critical employees involved in your company's continuity to discuss hypothetical emergencies. This is an excellent way to see how well your company is equipped and how well-informed your employees are.

5. Extremely Worst Case Scenario

Having your staff participate in live exercises is a great way to practice how your company would respond in an actual crisis. Communication, logistics, and physical ability can all benefit greatly from these kinds of drills.

6. Exercising to Deal with a Power Outage

Determine which services are crucial to keeping operations going throughout winter and how their availability may be affected. Contact your local utility to discuss alternative power supply options during blackouts or other power outages.

Keep track of the inventories

Extreme cold causes your store's roof to give way, ruining inventory and customer goods. Unfortunately, your insurance won't cover your merchandise because you still need to keep an up-to-date inventory list.

If you want this to be fine, thorough stock counting is essential.

Fortify your company's physical locations

The easiest method to keep your business running amid a crisis is to take precautions against potential dangers ahead of time.

As part of your disaster preparation, you should create an assessment strategy and execute measures like:

  • In case of a blackout, be readied by stocking up on blankets and sleeping bags.
  • Store provisions of food and drink.
  • Stocking up on flashlights, bandages, and a snow shovel.

Maintaining your structures is also crucial for safety reasons. What this indicates is:

  • Examining the Roof and Water System
  • Pipes be protected against freezing by being insulated.
  • Setting off smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, checking the lights, and checking the HVAC system.

Setup a team for winter trials

Establishing a dedicated team within your firm can help you better manage all preparations, regardless of how big or small your business is.

One person from each team will act as the SPOC (Single Point of Contact), and they will coordinate all internal and external communication channels. Crew members need to know what's going on with the weather, keep their teammates safe, prepare the business for the winter, and set a schedule for themselves and their teams for the smooth continuity of the company.

Never underestimate the value of preparations, as even prevention from minor destruction may sometimes be a lifesaver. Although you have no control over the winter season, you can ensure your company is ready for any eventuality by taking the necessary precautions.

Safeguarding your company from the effects of winter weather requires anticipatory risk assessment, disaster planning at all locations, team readiness, inventory documentation, insurance verification, and clean-up preparations.

Create a checklist, and then take each item on the list and put it in its proper place. We began our winter planning and hope you do too.

Be prepared. Prevention is better than cure.

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