By Brian MacMahon, YourOfficeAgent
The storm that hit New York earlier this month was tough on all businesses affected, whether those companies planned for the “unplanned” or not. Some premises were flooded, others had no power to work and an unlucky few had everything they had worked so hard to build torn away from them. The human impact is easy enough to measure and, other than building bunkers in the mountains, there is little most homeowners can do, if their house is swept out to sea, other than reinforce the structure of the next one or move further inland. The business side of things is a different story though, and this author is stunned at the amount of articles that have come out after the event talking about how companies have reacted quickly or not, rather than looking at the far more important issue of who actually had a business continuity plan in place or who even had a senior employee with the responsibility to create one.
There have been so many examples of unforeseen disasters happening over the past 10 years and each has the same pattern. I was in Houston when the floods raged through the city. I was in Mexico during the earthquake, in Columbia during the drug wars, in London when the Buncefield oil explosion rocked the suburbs, in St Petersburg as the regional war tore the infrastructure apart, in Belfast during the height of the troubles, which blighted a generation, on a different plane as terrorists flew into twin towers, in Dallas as I witnessed my first terrifying tornado, and too many more to mention. One thing that has stood out to me, no matter the war, the revolution, the natural disaster or the realignment, is how much of a surprise it is to everyone when these incidents affect our businesses. Some CEOs would say that there is no perfect plan, as the world moves too quickly and the only option would be to rent two offices and keep one mothballed. They are wrong.
There was an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal a few years back which stated that 65% of the businesses which have to close their doors for a prolonged period of time are likely to never reopen again. The surprise here is that their definition of prolonged period of time is only weeks not months. It is incredible to me that any company would take that risk, especially as we protect ourselves in every aspect of our private lives so well. Surely our business lives should be even more important, as that is what pays for every other life we have.
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The good news is that there are some excellent options out there, many of which cost nothing to know about and cents on the dollar to safeguard against prior to the event. Executive suites were the main beneficiaries of the hurricane in New York and many would be wise to follow the footsteps of Regus who have specific plans in place for their clients from day one. These plans are low cost and flexible at most levels. They also guarantee the space. SunGard are the industry leader for data products along with warehousing of staff. Again these solutions are very low cost and have wide coverage for clients who need to house anywhere from 10 to 300 staff. Finally, there is a wonderful company, spun off from General Electric, which will deliver a 200 person fully fitted office container sent to a company needing help, on the back of a truck! Pretty amazing and very feasible within 48 hours.
The availability of such good options in the market and the limited knowledge of them is why my company decided to help our clients get the right solution in this area many moons ago. The key is to mix the different solutions to make sure that every need in the company is met, from protecting data with cloud solutions, office and mobile workspace needs with executive suites and warehouses all over the world, and home workers with good drop in office availability in co-working and flexible space.
So why don’t more people prepare for the worst? Well most don’t know about solutions and some just hope nothing happens to their business and believe they will deal with the problem when it comes. The head and sand formula as a solution to potential catastrophe did not work for the dinosaurs back in their day and that’s not changed in the last 1,000 years. So don’t be a disaster dummy and get prepared. It may just save your business life.