Easy Office Phone, a leading provider of award-winning cloud-based business phone services, recently released tips for minimizing communications downtime during natural disasters. Be it hurricane, tornado, flood or blizzard, it’s crucial for companies to take steps to minimize any disruption in communications with employees or customers due to weather-related events.
“In the event of a disaster, business owners have even more to worry about than most people,” says Adam Simpson, CEO of Easy Office Phone. “They have to take care of themselves and their families like everyone else, but they’re also responsible for ensuring their staff will be safe and their business will stay as close to 100 percent operational as possible. That means taking precautions to safeguard their communications systems.”
Click through for seven tips organizations should consider to help reduce communication downtime during natural disasters, as identified by Easy Office Phone.
Well before the next disaster arrives, your employees should know exactly what you expect them to do if an event occurs. Develop a simple checklist for employees to follow and ensure every staff member has a copy. Do not allow for any confusion or uncertainty in the event of a disaster – you cannot afford it.
Determine which regular activities are mission-critical, and then apply worst-case infrastructure scenarios to see whether your plan holds up. For example, if your entire office building loses power, how can your staff continue fielding customer support inquiries?
For most businesses, phone continuity is mission-critical. Cloud-based phone service greatly increases the odds that your main phone number will remain reachable and your clients will know you’re in business – even if a disaster takes your office entirely off the grid.
Because you can never be too prepared, be sure to develop a comprehensive staff contact list, including cell phone numbers, home numbers and personal email addresses. Some staff may not wish to receive cell phone calls outside of office hours, so your list should clearly note which numbers are to be called in emergencies only. It may also be helpful to implement a contact tree so all employees know who to expect an emergency call from, and if they in turn need to call someone else on the list.
Ask your staff to develop a list of documents and files they regularly use and need access to. Implement a practice of backing up these key files to cloud-based storage on a regular basis. Remember, you may have only limited advance warning of an impending disaster – preparing now saves your staff from having to scramble at the last moment to decide which files are most critical, or worse, losing documents they may have saved locally if the power or servers unexpectedly shut down.
Believe it or not, many employees will attempt to commute to the office even in extreme weather – unless you’ve told them otherwise. If your employees cannot safely travel to the office or office infrastructure is compromised, you need an alternative. Implementing a virtual private network (VPN) and cloud-based phone and email services will remove a great deal of pressure by enabling staff to access office files and emails from home, and make and receive calls from anywhere.
Although the previous tips are crucial, implementing them does involve some work. As with most aspects of business, a clear leader is important. Designate a single trusted staff member to work through the steps – and do it now, so you have a chance to review and test your system well before you truly need it.