While the storm this past Tuesday didn’t hit New York City as hard as expected, some areas were very badly hit. And even in areas where there was a relatively low accumulation of snow, travel conditions were treacherous. In fact, New York City stayed in a state of emergency till midnight, because travel was so difficult, and the Mayor wanted to make sure emergency vehicles could get around the city. So, lots of people were really not able to get into their offices.
Your phone system, email, access to . . . information, and ability to create and save work documents are the keys to keeping operations going in a storm.
How do you keep your business going when people cannot travel? Well, sometimes you can’t. There are some things that still need a live person in present to do. Whether it’s operate machinery, or take care of people’s physical needs, someone actually needs to be there to do the task. But, for most offices, it’s possible to keep things going. Perhaps not optimally, but enough to keep the day from being a loss.
So what are the pieces of the puzzle that can make this work? Your phone system, email, access to client (and other) information, and ability to create and save work documents are the keys to keeping operations going in a storm.
Phone system: People need to reach you. You need to reach other people. And, despite all of the other messaging systems out there, phones are still a key means of communications. There are a number of ways to allow people to have access to your phone system, even when they are working remotely. One common way is to use a cloud based phone system. It doesn’t matter where someone is. As long as they have an internet connection and the access information they can log in and have a phone. Alternatively, most modern phone systems have options for remote access in many different configurations. Additionally, either type of system should allow you to record a temporary message that alerts people to the fact that you are operating on a different schedule. Whether you need people to know that your offices are closed or that you expect call back times to be a bit longer, making sure that information shows up when the phone rings is useful.
Email: The other key means of communication for most office staff is email. If you are using a cloud based solution, you have nothing to worry about. If you have a premises based solution, you really want your staff to be able to get email while out of the office. That doesn’t mean you have to allow people to get email on insecure phones, though! Set up outside access to your email when things are calm, and you won’t have to worry about giving people insecure access to email at the last minute.
Access to information: Whether your information is in a cloud based system, or premises based, your staff needs to have access to it. When a client calls, your staff needs to be able to find the information they need to help the client. When a vendor calls about something, your staff needs to be able to get to the information they need to deal with it. Again, you want to think about these things before the next storm comes along. Once you have to set it up, your staff will be able to access the information they need in a secure manner.
Work Documents: If you use a cloud based system such as Google Docs or Office 365 this is a no brainer. If your documents live on a premises based system, it’s a bit more complicated. The key to making this work is to think about the possibilities and create a set of policies around this. So, you can allow people to access your server – just make sure it’s set up in a secure manner. Or you can allow people to create documents at home but require them to email them to themselves or someone else, and save them on