Have you had enough winter yet? Are you over it? Ready for spring? While climate change has made the weather more severe and unpredictable, some weather-related things are for certain: colder temperatures, harsh winds, some snow, and a strong desire to stay indoors and work from home.
Bad weather can cause major headaches for business owners. Employees may be unable to commute, they may have trouble finding last-minute childcare when schools are cancelled, and some may even ask to work from home in order to avoid being caught in a storm. Still, executing work despite the inclement conditions outdoors is a priority for the business. Planning for these circumstances beforethey occur will mitigate their effect.
Here are some suggestions that can help when Mother Nature is not cooperating:
The Weathermen Can Be Wrong
Remember November 15, 2018? We were getting a dusting – all stations had the same report! What went wrong? It took many people leaving at 2pm until 7pm to get home. The roads were treacherous and tempers were short. As an employer, you didn’t know this was coming, but I will venture a bet that many of your staff did not show on November 16th because of the icy conditions. No one was prepared!
Establish Protocol That Enable Your Employees to Work From Home
While you may opt to keep your office doors open, it is possible that in severe weather some employees may not be able to get into the office. But the day is not lost! If job responsibilities allow it, they may still be able to execute their work remotely. Working from home is an increasingly popular option that many employers offer their staff regardless of whether or not the weather is bad. “Telecommuting” may not work for all job functions, but if a viable option for those with the appropriate duties and technology, then it should be part of your severe weather protocol. Enabling employees to work from home can minimize the impact on the overall productivity of the company.
Develop Written Procedures That Codify Expectations During Bad Weather
Having written procedures will help eliminate any confusion and concerns that arise when bad weather makes it difficult, or even impossible, for employees to be in the office. These procedures should be clearly outlined in your Employee Manual and should be referred to in advance of any impending weather disruptions. Make certain that supervisors review the procedures with their teams, especially at the start of each winter; this is the key to employees following the Employee Manual.
Pre-Plan What Will Happen Before Bad Weather Arrives
It is rare that bad weather occurs without advance warning. Once it is predicted in the forecast, you must immediately begin to pre-plan for the worst. This may include determining which employees are willing and able to come into work and can potentially stay in the office for lengthier hours if necessary, alerting clients to what looms ahead as far as potential office closures or employee absences, and making certain that employees have been cross-trained in order to handle mission-critical work.
Keep Employees in the Information Loop
How will your employees find out if the office is “officially” open or closed? There is nothing more frustrating, and possibly dangerous, for an employee than to have struggled into the office only to find the doors locked. Consider using a mass alert text or a communication chain to notify ALL employees BEFORE they head out the door. www.eztexting.com
Keep in mind that even if employees want to go into work, it may be unnecessary or unsafe for them to do so. Zeal and commitment are not to be mistaken for what might be foolhardy. By establishing these processes and procedures, you will help to ensure that everyone stays safe when the weather turns ugly!