14 Nov Is your Business Winter Ready?
As the mercury dips from autumn to winter, businesses must brace for the seasonal occurrence of extreme weather, including storms, heavy rain, and flooding. All of these seasonal challenges pose risks to business continuity and failing to prepare for these challenges can lead to significant disruption.
The infamous ‘Beast from the East’ and ‘Storm Arwen’ are stark reminders of the havoc that winter weather can cause, leaving buildings without power and operations halted for days on end.
Being Prepared for Winter
Research shows that only about 27% of small businesses in the UK have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place (Source), It’s alarming that such a significant portion of small businesses lack a plan, leaving many vulnerable to disruptive events. Developing a robust Business Continuity Plan is vital. This plan should outline strategies for maintaining operations during severe weather incidents, which may include remote working protocols, alternative facilities, supply chain arrangements.
Below are key elements to consider when preparing your business for winter:
- Prioritising Safety
First and foremost, in winter preparedness is ensuring the safety of employees and customers. For example, Icy conditions elevate the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Such incidents not only affect the individuals involved but can also lead to injury claims, employee absence, along with reputational damage. Have you conducted a risk assessment for your business? Is there a simple solution that you can introduce such as pre-purchasing grit salt for the ice risk?
- Infrastructure resilience
Regular building maintenance checks are essential to mitigate the risk of damage from weather events such as strong winds and heavy rain. Flooding, often a byproduct of stormy weather, demands particular attention. Businesses located in flood-prone areas should take proactive measures to protect their premises. This may include installing flood barriers, ensuring proper drainage, and securing critical equipment and records in appropriate locations. Regular Testing & Servicing of critical infrastructure is critical; for businesses that have backup generators or uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) when was the last time you tested or serviced this?
Clear communication channels are vital in ensuring everyone is on the same page during a crisis. Employees should be well-informed about the business’s emergency procedures and their roles during such events. Training and regular drills can enhance preparedness and response times. Communicating with customers, suppliers, and key stakeholders about potential disruptions is also critical, this is to help ensure expectations are managed where business as usual (BAU); operational delivery, arrangements, or information flows are severely restricted. Does your business use social media? Can this be used to communicate messages quickly and effectively?
- Insurance, Financial and Business Impact Considerations
When the worst does happen having insurance in place can be decider between being able to recover quickly or possible business failure. Businesses should review if adequate insurance coverage is in place, asses Have you undertaken a full business impact assessment to understand any gaps that exist, the costs involved? policies cover extreme weather and flood-related damages. Does your business have a ‘rainy day fund’ in place for emergencies? Have you considered and itemised the costs of disruption? Have you undertaken a full business impact assessment (BIA) to understand any gaps that exist, costs, unintended consequences, recovery times etc?
Stay ahead by signing up to weather alerts provided by the Met Office.
If you would like to learn more on how North Northamptonshire Council can help, please visit https://www.northnorthants.gov.uk/emergency-planning/protecting-your-business