Question: We recently went through some rather severe weather. How should we manage our operations when it is not safe for people to be outside and travel to work?
Answer: First let me suggest that you verify with your staff that they have a computer at home with internet access. Your Internal Systems should have the ability for remote access even if it is to partial data. This would allow access to their company email and some of the operating systems so they can work from home. Next let me suggest that you have designated staff that will be in the office to manage daily operations. One thing they may need to do is forward the phones of your staff to their cell phones. Many times these situations come up rather suddenly and if you are prepared in advance you should be able to keep relatively normal operations.
Question: Does it make sense with severe weather to situate someone in the office over night?
Answer: There may be times in the year when you cannot afford to have your operations close. Depending on the location of your office consider having some staff stay at a hotel that is close by and be the dedicated on site operations team. While this may cost a few dollars, keeping the appearance to your members or clients that your operations are running normally can make a huge impact.
Question: We have some staff that seem to look for any excuse not to work. Many times they will indicate that there is impeding bad weather and they should either leave early or be allowed a free day off. How do you suggest we handle this?
Answer: It is very simple and you need to be forceful and blunt. Tell them if you are able to make it in you expect them to do the same. If they indicate they do not feel safe driving then offer to pick them up and drive them. Some people may have legitimate issues but for those who are known to abuse the system then deal with them accordingly.
Question: We are doing some severe weather planning and wonder how you suggest we handle a situation of a fast moving storm that limits our staff’s ability to get home?
Answer: It can be very easy to have a storm sneak up on you when you are focused on work and not listening to the radio. If it becomes necessary for people to stay in your office let me suggest a couple of things. First send someone to get some food that does not require preparation. Also I strongly suggest you not include alcohol in what you purchase. Sometimes things can get out of hand when people are forced to stay together. Next look for something you can do as a group that will be fun. There are usually things in your office that can be used to play games that can include anyone in your office. One thing to remember is if you have someone who would rather work than participate in games or other activities let them work. Some people are not as social and if they prefer to avoid the fun, leave them alone. Last have a plan on when you plan to have people leave and go home even if it is in the middle of next day. You may need to consider providing transportation depending on the aftermath of the storm.