Natural disasters like hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions can put a toll on businesses because they affect buildings' infrastructure and cut down utility services. So, organizations need to make their buildings resilient to natural forces to withstand office shutdown. When located in an area prone to catastrophic events, companies are looking for solutions that go beyond the minimum measures all businesses take during natural disasters to make sure they're ready to operate even when it's chaos outside.
40% of companies don't reopen after a natural disaster, and 25% fail within one year, so strive to increase your survival chances. Why? Because natural hazards are catastrophic events, no one can prevent, and they impact companies in more ways.
How adverse events affect businesses?
They disrupt the supply chain
Companies rely on an effective supply chain to succeed, but natural disasters interfere with them because they affect access routes. For example, the constant supply of fruits is essential for companies making juice. Because of natural hazards, bridges collapse, roads become impassable, and airports close.
They put barriers in communication
Loss of communication infrastructure and panic cause hysteria. Because everyone tries to save their own lives, they hamper communication, which can be detrimental for organizations. In extreme cases, hysteria lasts for weeks, and companies cannot function when they have no communication infrastructure to power their operations.
They damage buildings
Natural disasters damage buildings and many of them are business premises. Companies cannot reopen when they lack offices, so they lose money to repair buildings and because they cannot continue their operations.
Catastrophic events also affect equipment, and the costs of replacing it can be crippling for small organizations that don't have access to government grants or loans.
People lose their lives
The saddest part is that during natural catastrophes, people lose their lives. Some of them are employees, and others are clients. Either way, companies lose money.
Because over 70% of small companies have no disaster recovery plan, they are less likely to reopen. When they experience shutdowns, there is a cost associated with them, and the result can be pretty tough because they have to pay for labor and equipment replacement. Recovering from a natural disaster is expensive, but 95% of the businesses that have a back-up plan can survive a major disaster.
Asses for local hazards
To prepare for a natural disaster, companies need to evaluate their location and identify the possible hazards that can pose a threat to their operations. For example, the companies located on the Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Hawaii Islands should prepare for a hurricane rather than for a wildfire.
They should assess both the geographic area and the building. They need to determine if their buildings have exit routes if the floors, ceilings, and equipment pose dangers to the employees, and what other hazards lurk around.
Aside from the dangers, the business can experience, companies also need to identify how a natural disaster would impact their operations to understand what aspects they need to cover in their back-up plan.
Create a business continuity plan
A business continuity plan guarantees survival and recovery from a natural hazard. The organizations that lack resources to create one can use online tools that guide them through the process and help them determine the aspects they need to focus on.
The plan should include a relocation building the company can use if a natural disaster damages the one they're using at present. They should also collaborate with companies that provide temporary replacement equipment they can use until they reconnect to the local utilities. The most important collaborators are the ones that provide rental boilers, generators, mobile internet solutions, and cloud services.
Companies need to share the continuity plan with their employees, assign them individual responsibilities, and train them to know how to react in an emergency. They should also conduct regular drills to assess their employees' skills and find ways to determine their response.
Store key data off-site.
To get an organization up and operating fast after a catastrophic event, it needs to access its critical data. So, all companies should back up their computers and store critical business information on a cloud. They need a back-up site to keep copies of their insurance policies, banking data, employees' phone numbers, clients' contact details, and other similar information that can help them restart the operations.
The back-up site should be in another geographical location than the one they regularly use to ensure the same natural disaster cannot affect it.
Data loss means irreversible damage to a business because it affects revenue, productivity, and reputation. Cloud computing is the best solution to prevent data loss because it allows organizations to store and recover their data with the help of a remote cloud-based platform. The companies that cannot afford a secondary location where to store redundant copies of critical information can rely on cloud disaster recovery to stay in business.
Create an emergency plan
When running a business in a natural disaster-prone area, organizations need to be aware of the potential threats that can affect their operations. An emergency plan covers all the steps an organization must follow when a natural disaster occurs. Their priority should be to keep their workforce safe and secure because skilled employees are the hardest to replace.
Businesses need to establish what they do when the disaster hits and how they keep everyone safe afterward. They have to identify the most efficient way to reach people and keep communication open during and after the natural disaster.
They also need a plan on how they intend to keep the business running when an emergency occurs because catastrophes reduce resources. Establishing priorities helps companies to recover after a disaster. The emergency plan should also include measures to recover from the incident, both for the company and the employees.
Bouncing back to the normal operations can prove challenging during the first months, but if the plan includes the above aspects and all workers follow it, then they can improve their response time and boost their chances to limit effects.