The arrival of Storm Jonas heading from the US across the pond to here in the UK prompted the Met Office to issue weather warnings to prepare for plummeting temperatures and frosty conditions.
In previous winters, the cost of weather disruption borne by the UK’s small business community was estimated to reach £174m, according to the FSB, primarily caused by inability to trade due to staff finding themselves unable to get to work.
In addition, our own research paints a similar picture, finding that over a third (39 per cent) of companies reported negative impacts on their business caused by unexpected events; such as disruptive weather.
So what can be done to make sure your business is weather-proof? The answer is not as difficult as it may seem – using a few straightforward and cost-effective technology solutions, you can reduce the impact so it’s business as usual.
Introduce flexible working weather policies ahead of time
Make sure to communicate a clear policy to your workforce on what to do when bad weather hits. In these cases, common sense is always the best approach – if it is easy for people to get into the office, then its business as normal.
However, if they have to spend hours struggling against the elements to make it through the door, then it’s often more sensible to let employees know they can work from home, where they can dedicate more time to working rather than commuting.
Look to the cloud
If your employees are working from home, ensure they have access to documents and email through a cloud-based system.
Tools such as Microsoft Office 365 can enable workers to access Word documents and PowerPoints presentations from a variety of devices including mobiles, tablets and laptops. If you are investing in these services, make sure you are using security software to protect your data across unsecured networks.
Read more on weather-proofing your business:
- Why 2016 will be the year that flexible working is fully embraced
- The challenges of running a seasonal business and how to overcome them
- 4.2m people across the UK now work from home, but trust is a growth barrier
Get your business mobile
Rather than cumbersome desktop computers, look to provide your employees with technology that facilitates being mobile, meaning your workforce can work wherever they need to and aren’t impacted as heavily when bad weather strikes.
Portable technology such as tablets and smartphones are all good options for businesses looking to become more flexible.
Pick up the phone
If face-to-face meetings have to be cancelled due to weather conditions, the show can go on with the right conference call service. Our conference calling app, O2 Just Call Me, is as easy calling a colleague direct, with no lengthy dial in details or long winded passwords to remember. And it’s often more productive than sending an email.
Through incorporating just one or more of the suggestions above, you can make sure your businesses are far more prepared when winter weather hits and your productivity doesn’t drop as quickly as the temperature.
While some companies are not on board the idea of remote working and new communications, one food startup has been able to introduce a working pattern so flexible that the staff don’t have a holiday allowance.
Paul Lawton is head of O2 Small Business
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