At the time of writing the tube strike planned to take effect in London next week has been suspended following talks between the RMT and Transport for London. Across the capital, businesses will breathe a sigh of relief at the news and continuity plans will be filed back on the shelf.
But hold up! Before those plans go away it might be worth taking a quick look to check that they are fully up to date and that they take account of the latest technology. We are fast approaching the winter season and even if the threat of transport strikes has diminished for now there are still potential hazards ahead.
Public Health England are already urging people to get their winter flu jabs in a bid to cut down on the hundreds of thousands who were hospitalised with flu last winter and we all know how a bout of flu in the office can disrupt smooth running. Then we have the winter weather to look forward to. Long range forecasting is notoriously fickle and a quick trawl of the internet reveals that current predictions say that the winter will either be very cold and snowy or mild with lots of rain! However it turns out we expect there will be some days when people just can’t get in to the office for one reason or another.
Continuity, or risk, planning is all about anticipating the unexpected and working out how to minimise disruption. And whether we have strikes or snow, flu or floods, the more that we have planned for disruption the better we can overcome whatever is thrown at us. Whilst there is no such thing as an ‘off the shelf’ continuity plan, there are certain features which are common to all. Key among these is the way in which channels of communication need to be kept open. Letting employees know what is expected of them, advising suppliers and customers of disruption and alternate plans, keeping abreast of local conditions; the better the communication plan, the better a business should be able to provide a service to its customers.
Setting up services such as an emergency information line in advance means that businesses can pre-advertise the existence of the line and then leave it to lie dormant until needed. Specially adapted to accept high volume calls over a short period the company emergency information line can operate completely outside of a business’s normal phone system and yet be quickly programmed from anywhere when required. Add in call divert, an answerphone message system and bulk SMS texting and the basis of an emergency communication plan swiftly starts to take shape.
London businesses may not have to face strikes next week but whatever the future holds, wherever our business resides, we can be that little bit more secure with a good continuity plan which places communication at its heart.