With snow predicted to arrive this month in some parts of the country it's time to look at preparing your business for winter.
Recent reports suggest we might have snow as early as this month. Are you ready? Here are some tips to get you and your business prepared for the winter months.
Make detailed plans, well in advance
You need to sit down with everyone involved and look at what needs to be done. Don’t just stick to what you’ve done in the past but try to think afresh about how to approach every aspect of bad weather planning.
Find out the legal situation
Read up on employment policies on Severe Weather Conditions. The policies cover issues including entitlement to time off; entitlement to paid or unpaid leave; working from home; flexible working hours to avoid hour traffic and travel; and other provisions relating to your business and operational requirements.
Don’t forget, proper consultation with staff is a requirement, and getting buy-in early on provides you with that framework to manage issues when the bad weather hits.
Staying at home doesn’t mean staying in bed
Home workers are often more efficient than office-based workers – and certainly more efficient than people who turn up after a three hour journey and then spend an hour discussing how bad it was, and how soon they should leave to get home.
With the right rules – and technology – in place you can make sure work gets done and make staff very grateful to you too.
The right technology outside the office
You need to work this out in advance, or it won’t work. Do staff have laptops? Do they have decent internet connection at home? Can they easily and securely access work servers remotely – and do they actually know how to do it?
The right technology inside the office.
How is your in-house network set up? Can it be accessed remotely? What if there’s a power failure? Do you have up to date records of every member of staff’s mobile and home numbers – and can you access them remotely if you can’t get in yourself?
Keep in touch with everyone throughout the course of the bad weather – make sure they feel involved and motivated. Conference facilities and chat software can be really useful.
What will you do if the server fails and no one can access anything? How good is your back up system? If the snow brings down power lines, is there any risk of you losing data permanently? It might be worth considering cloud based solutions, even just as a back up, to ensure staff can access enough information to keep a skeleton service running.
Encourage staff to plan ahead
What will they do if they can’t get out of their street? How will they assess the travel situation and make a call on whether to set off? How and when will they let you know if they’re not coming?
It’s important to take into consideration the advice set out by the emergency services. If the police have issued a warning not to travel unless absolutely necessary, then this should be seriously considered and perhaps should not be ignored. It’s crucial to assess what is reasonable risk for your employees and to advise them accordingly.
Buy decent equipment
Snow tyres for company cars are a must and it’s worth buying in grit supplies before they sell out, as they always seem. We also encourage staff to put together ‘winter packs’ for their cars, with shovels, blankets, in-car phone chargers and even flasks of soup.
If they get stuck on the motorway, or in a bank of snow, at least we know they’ll be warm and fed. Make a call on whether it’s safe to set off.
Bring in expertise
You can’t know, or do, everything yourself. Sometimes it’s worth turning to the experts and listening to what they have to say.
And do that early in the process, rather than in a last minute panic when people are trapped under snowdrifts trying to get to work, and you’re losing business because of it.
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