As cities affected by Hurricane Sandy begin to assess the damage caused by the record-breaking storm, many of those impacted are preparing for alterations to their work schedules and environment.
Bracing for impact doesn’t have to mean reduced effectiveness, however. Below are some tips and free tools which can help keep you on track – no matter which way the wind blows:
Too often, we underestimate the impact of a storm, believing it will mean little more than heavy traffic and a day or two without electricity. But the human and economic tolls can be great, and preparing thoroughly for the full range of outcomes will maximize your ability to not only manage your work – but to simply stay safe.
It goes without saying, but pay attention to preparedness and government agencies’ warnings, and evacuate if, needed. Map an evacuation route (and an alternate), even if you don’t believe you’re facing immediate danger, and download free apps, such as the one provided by the American Red Cross for tracking the storm and sending emergency distress signals should you face serious danger.
Create a Contingency Plan
Limited public transportation, downed power lines and general chaos might prevent even the hardiest amongst us from keeping to our routines and schedules. That’s why having a contingency plan (this app helps you plan a hurricane checklist) in place can help you maintain momentum in the face of disruptions – especially since already limited resources may be increasingly strained.
Experts recommend paring down your routine to the essentials by identifying key responsibilities, projects and stakeholders. What must get done and who needs to do it? Does that creative re-design project really need to be completed ASAP – or can it wait? List the truly critical items in order of priority, and define means for completing them outside of the traditional office environment.
Don’t forget that disruptions can last for several days –if not weeks. A solid contingency plan should equip you and your colleagues to handle major responsibilities for an unforeseen period of time. If you’re thinking of being back in the office in a couple of days, don’t count on it – and plan accordingly. Roads may be impassable. Your office may be flooded or otherwise damaged. Your boss may be unreachable.
Even seemingly simple things, such as finding gasoline or even potable water can get harder as the days go by; free apps such GasBuddy can help you locate stocked gas stations in your area –or along your evacuation route –and find the cheapest price.
Assess Your Alternatives
In addition to remembering to back-up key files(try the Egnyte free app) in alternate locations (such as in the cloud or remote servers), you should be aware of alternative solutions to traditional office needs. Can some workers be deployed to work from other cities? Or can some meetings be held remotely, using remote conferencing and collaboration tools?
Holding virtual meetings and collaborating remotely via tools and apps such as iMeet (click for a free trial) can help you maintain high levels of productivity and save money in shifting work situations.
And because these are cloud-based solutions, they’re less likely to be disrupted by adverse weather in any single geographic area. It also allows you to share notes, files, and meet face to face with a variety of voice-connection options that will minimize the likelihood of disruption –even if phone or power lines are down.
Hurricanes are intrinsically unpredictable phenomena, and can be expected to wreak havoc on work routines and normal business life. Minimize their impact through sensible planning and precautions – and above all, stay safe.
PGi is a leader in the sorts of virtual collaboration and meeting tools, such as iMeet and GlobalMeet, which enable people to work from a variety of locations –even in difficult weather and other unexpected situations.