Bad weather: The business survival kit

As waves of snow sweep into Britain from Siberia, civilisation as we know it appears to have broken down. With transport and infrastructure severely disrupted, up to 20% of workers were unable to get into work on this morning (6 Jan). According to the Federation of Small Business, the resulting lost productivity will cost UK businesses £1.2bn or more.

It’s not as if we weren’t warned, but the weather-induced chaos has presented an ideal opportunity for technologists to remind businesses that we now have the means to lessen the impact of bad weather. Mobile and remote working tools make it possible to be productive in almost any location and the aptly named Cloud Computing can take care of all your processing needs on the internet.
 
This article presents an overview of remote working options, and offers tips and links to more detailed advice on how to go about it.
 

Sensible HR advice

Coping with bad weather conditions isn’t just a matter of modern technology, notes Rebecca Clarke of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). 
 
While some employers still hold the view that they expect to see employees at their posts “come Hell or high water”, expecting them to travel in dangerous conditions can affect staff morale and can be risky from a health and safety perspective, she advises.
 
Common sense should prevail on both sides. Employees shouldn’t use the weather as an excuse for an unscheduled holiday and should make their situation clear if they are unable to get to work or are suddenly faced with unexpected childcare duties.
 
For their part, “Employers should make clear to employees that they should not risk life and limb to get to work, and be understanding if employees need to leave early to avoid getting stranded unnecessarily on their way home – particularly if conditions worsen during the working day,” Clark advises.
 
Where employees have to drive for work, employers have a health and safety duty to ensure they are allowed extra time to complete journeys and factor in alternative routes – and that they are not pressurised to complete any dangerous journeys, she adds.
 
We have the technology
While it may be impossible for distribution, manufacturing and process industries to carry on without their workforces in situ, it’s perfectly feasible for many of the country’s information workers - including accountants - to log in to work from home.

Continued...

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Comments
onesys's picture

Business Survival, Technology and Six Inches of Snow

onesys | | Permalink

Perhaps a few inches of snow can achieve what a decade of technology sales and environmental adverts couldn't...

Imagine what a severe winter like 1963 could do for the way we work!

Home working has transformed my working and personal life.

Early adoption of affordable hardware and software has greatly benefited me and the software company I work for.  There is no need to switch to Cloud Computing / SaaS systems, as you can stick to the traditional computer / server-based software you are familiar with. For instance the applications I use (Sage Act! and Sage Coretime) are browser-based and are ideal for home working but the same applies for the accounting packages we supply.

As an added personal and environmental bonus, remote access has saved me 480 hours per year in travelling time and it has taken one car off the road that used to do 20,000 miles per year. Like me and my colleagues, many of you could save a small fortune.

How we managed to continue service yesterday...

carlreader | | Permalink

Here's an article from our local news website about how we dealt with the snow...

http://www.thisiswiltshire.co.uk/news/4835799.Technology_beats_the_snow/

Carl

 

naomi2000's picture

A timely reminder ...

naomi2000 | | Permalink

... may I suggest a follow up article on video and teleconferencing ? I know that a lot of first timers find remote meetings a bit unnerving and I expect a lot of people will be trying them for the first time over the next few weeks.

Working from home

Richard Lees | | Permalink

Well, a company called ANS seem to have carried on business as usual by remote working. Despite only 2 out of 85 staff making it into the office today due to the Snow its business as usual for ANS Group.

 

Thanks to Cisco and its Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) staff are able to access all the systems they require to work from home including the Cisco Telephony System which allow users to log in on soft phones on their laptops just as if they were in the office.

 

Managing Director, Paul Sweeney who battled for 2 hours to cover 8 miles early this morning to open the office said "It's a great time to practice what we preach, we invoked our Business Continuity Plan this morning at 7.30am communicating to all office based staff to log on from home and work as normal, all systems and accessible and all DDI's and hunt groups work as normal".   

 

Manchester City Centre saw it's worst snow conditions in decades with over 6 inches of snow in the centre, effectively crippling business just as they get started in the New Year.

 

Sweeney said "As many of office staff use Virtual Desktops is very simple and secure to connect via a broadband connection and continue to work"

 

When asked how he was going to get home tonight he said "That's a great question, to which I have no answer yet, I've checked the Kitchen and there plenty of Milk and Sugar though!"

 

Might be worth contacting them if anyone is interested in lookin into this.  Their website is www.ansgroup.co.uk

 

Cloud computing

Anonymous | | Permalink

This is all well and good, but I am dubious about the merits of having confidential data stored on a third party server somewhere in the cloud. Surely the server owner/administrator would be in a position to override any security I put in place or at the very least able to deny me access to my own records.

I already have the ability to remotely log on to my corporate network from anywhere over the internet, so what advantages does the cloud have over this setup?

 

Updating staff and customers

markwev | | Permalink

A very convenient way to contact staff and customers to notify them of latest updates is to use SMS (text messaging).   We can offer organisations access to an online portal with built in address books and all sorts of features for just £10 per month and 6p per text (no lengthy contracts) so you can contact 500 people for just £40.

Worked very well for the schools that were using it today.

www.smilessms.com

cymraeg_draig's picture

Trust

cymraeg_draig | | Permalink

Do firms really have so little trust in their employees that they think they would use bad weather as an excuse for not going to work?

If that is the case, then I suggest those firms need to look at the way they treat their staff because they obviously either have a poor selection process, or, they treat their staff so poorly that they dont gain staff loyalty.