Winter is coming: Are you ready?

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With the onset of winter, the chances of severe disruptions to your business operations increase. But, if you have a contingency plan in place you can act swiftly to mitigate and minimise the risks

Being ahead of the game when it comes to the many ways in which Mother Nature can impact your organisation’s operations could be the difference between a minor imposition and a major disruption. By developing a comprehensive winter weather plan, you will be best placed to mitigate any ill effects and will be in a position to protect your two most valuable assets: your premises and your people.

On the property front, the potential for machinery to fail or operate inadequately is exacerbated by the colder temperatures, heavy rain or even snowfall.

Ensuring that key pieces of infrastructure, such as your heating system, plumbing and electrics are up to date with servicing and maintenance is an absolute must. In cases where the equipment is ageing or has already had instances of sub-par performance, it is also worth considering an upgrade or replacement.

Beyond the major pieces of equipment, there are several other house-keeping measures that must also be accounted for to minimise the risks to staff and clients who are on site.

Having the office and surrounding areas well-lit increases in importance as the daylight hours shorten. It’s also essential that you pay closer attention to keeping communal areas clean and dry as the potential for slippages due to wet floors from umbrellas and soaked workers rises.

Outside of the office, ensure you have stocked up on grit and salt to clear pathways and the car park. Although the risk that your staff won’t even be able to make it that far is one which will require a greater level of planning.

With major access routes and roads frequently slowed or closed as a result of floods or dangerous conditions, the potential for staff to be cut off from the office is at its highest in the winter months and can prove highly disruptive.

Speaking with your staff to highlight which employees are most likely to be affected by road or public transport closures will allow you to come up with alternative routes or means of carrying out their duties.

In situations such as this, and particularly so if a large contingent of the workforce is unable to travel to the office, the ability for staff to work remotely from home could prove to be a workable solution.

Access to company servers and work software may be manageable through people’s own devices, but could pose risks to your data security, so consult your head of IT or contractor on what needs to be done to ensure integrity is maintained.

It is also a sensible practice to contact all of your other contractors to get reassurance that they have contingency plans in place to overcome the risks they face.

Last, but by no means least, ensure all your staff are aware of the strategies so they know what is expected of them and what they need to do if they are unable to make it into the office as a result of the weather. And, with the likelihood of outbreaks of the common cold or flu also higher in winter, remind them of the staff sickness policy and urge them to communicate absence promptly.

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