How Ready is Your Practice for a Natural Disaster?
For business owners of all sizes, it’s imperative to consider emergency situations that could temporarily or permanently disrupt the flow of business. How quickly a company recovers from a disaster depends on how well prepared they were beforehand.
According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25 percent of businesses do not reopen following a major disaster. (Source: SBA.gov)
Emergencies include everything from localized acts of nature such as hurricanes, wildfires, tornados and earthquakes to building maintenance issues such as flooding due to a burst pipe or even protestors who may clog transportation arteries or block building access.
It’s imperative to develop a Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) to ensure the continuous performance of an agency’s essential functions and operations during an emergency. Also known as a “back up plan”.
Here are 3 essential tips business owners can implement today in preparation for emergency evacuations.
- Communication is Critical – Utilizing multiple communication channels for the instant dissemination of company information to employees is vital. In addition to the traditional group notification system of the phone tree, update employees’ contact info to include personal email addresses, and approved social media accounts where they can be messaged. Maintain updates on the company’s internal intranet site, utilize text messaging services, company Facebook postings and even Twitter depending on the circumstance.
- Protect Digital Property – The identification, protection and availability of important data files is critical to conducting “business as usual” despite the disruption. Regularly back up vital electronic files, especially billing, payroll records and client lists, and store backup copies on an external hard drive in a secure off-site location. Also, back-up files to a cloud computing system for easy off-site access if Internet is available.
Pop-Up Offices – There’s only so much working from home can accomplish. Lack of access to servers, phones, internet, printer facilities and other amenities can make employee productivity difficult.
Establish personal contacts and create a detailed list of nearby executive business centers and shared office space facilities that can be called upon to provide temporary work stations during disaster displacement situations. When Hurricane Sandy hit New York City, there was a “space race” in search of places to power up and get back to business.
Foursquare, a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, called Quest Workspaces the evening the storm hit and seamlessly moved 50 of its employees into temporary offices at Quest’s midtown facilities in the Time Life building by the next morning. Because Foursquare’s executive team was able to move quickly and make fast decisions, the company was spared the loss of productivity and avoided any disruption in client services.
Executive office spaces such as Quest Workspaces are designed to immediately provide flexible, short-term leasing options on private offices and open workstations with administrative staff, phone, internet and other resources so clients can resume their daily operations until they can return to their permanent offices.
While South Florida was spared by the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst natural disasters in history, her destruction is estimated to cost businesses billions of dollars.
It’s important for business owners, large and small, to take a page from this recent playbook andbe prepared to run interference for all types of business interruptions for the future.
About the Author
Laura Kozelouzek is a recognized leader and veteran of the executive office suite industry and has more than 20 years of experience in the commercial real estate and hospitality management fields. She is viewed as a visionary business builder for her ability to create a “high energy” results-oriented workplace culture.
In July of 2010, Kozelouzek created Quest Workspaces opening its first location in a prestigious landmark building in Miami and successfully expanded to 11 locations and counting including a center on the 43rd floor of New York’s iconic Time Life Building and other spaces in Boca Raton, Brickell, Coral Gables, Doral, Ft. Lauderdale, Stuart, Vista Park, Wellington and West Palm, Florida. Quest counts a number of legal professionals among its tenants.
Kozelouzek was named a “2007 Commercial Real Estate Rising Star” by Real Estate Weeklymagazine and was named a finalist in New York Enterprise Report’s “Small Business Awards” in the leadership category. In 2013, Quest Workspaces was recognized by SmartCeo Magazine as one of the “50 Fastest Growing Companies in New York City”; Quest was honored by the South Florida Business Journal as “One of the Best Places to Work”; Laura was acknowledged by the South Florida Business Journal as one of the “Most Influential Women in Business” and a Quest was a finalist for “Start Up of the Year” in honor of H. Wayne Huizenga.
For more information, visit questworkspaces.com.