Planning for the worst events in life may not be an exercise in how to make yourself feel great, but it is an inescapably valuable part of leading any organization. Just as the most capable, defensive motorists are required to have liability insurance to drive, so too should a comprehensive Business Continuity Plan be a part of any company’s standard operating procedures. Additionally, the people who are chosen to execute this plan in the event of an emergency should mirror the way you hire for your business in that the strength of the team determines the quality of their product. Of course, in all of our worlds, we want to make sure we don’t have any weak links in the chain.
Identify the Essentials
Obviously everyone on your team is important and irreplaceable, that said, there are some job functions that have a more immediate impact to your bottom line than others when it comes to shutting down an office. Specifically, what departments or job functions would you ideally never have down, not even for an instant, if you could manage that? Say, for example, that you have a Sales Director who can shift her attention from managing her team to handling much of the day-to-day traffic should she be required to do so. Identifying her as an essential extension to stay operational during a prolonged service interruption at your office is a good sign that she should probably also be a key stakeholder on your emergency response team. Once you have all of the critical individuals identified, you’re ready to move forward with navigating the path for the team to take during an emergency.
Make a Plan
The next step in in building your emergency response team is to designate a chain of command. Even for matrix organizations, a hierarchy probably already exists in the business operations of your company. This is not necessarily the one you should default to for an emergency response team. As part of your OSHA Incident Command System, you’ve likely already identified a Safety Officer for your office. If not, you probably should. You can come back and finish this article when you’re finished. For everyone else, know that this person has the training and trust of the leaders who chose him or her to guide the team through any emergency. It’s best to default to the Safety Officer’s instructions to make sure that, before anything else, the whole company finds its way to safety as soon as possible during an emergency. From there you can then implement any continuity procedures you’ve set in place beforehand. Some of those could include the following-
- Automated hotline message for employees to describe evacuation and check-in procedures and any other pertinent information
- Have your automatic business telephone failover system programmed to keep the essential employee’s extensions live and forwarded to their mobile or home phones
- Have pre-record messages for your inbound calls that state, in a general way, that you will have limited access to your phone system, and have the system admin update to that message from their remote access portal.
Following these few steps won’t totally complete your emergency response team’s strategy by any means, but including them will help solve plenty of problems before they occur.
You Know How to Get to Carnegie Hall, Don’t You?
Practice. You’ve made it this far to choose, build, plan, and empower your emergency response team, congratulations! Unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop just yet. Like any good team, preforming under pressure is a function of how well the members therein know their roles. To get there, try doing some simulations to test how well the team and the plan work together. Just like in business, you need to be willing to experiment, measure, iterate, and retry until you get things right. Plus, considering the essential nature of this particular endeavor, you’d be very well-served to put your best foot forward. Ideally you’ll never have to find out, but if your team is ever required to jump into action, having a smooth, rehearsed, and comprehensive strategy will be handsomely rewarding.
To get started today, consider your business as a homeowner who is evacuating from a fire and can only take one thing with it. It may seem silly, but these types of approaches help begin the thorough process in finding your business essentials. If you ever get stuck, you should consider taking a free personal tour with our emergency planning experts of the phone systems that will enable you to execute on the plan once it’s finished. Hopefully you’ll not need to ever act on it, but we’re here to help you build a plan that works for your business to ensure it can whether any storm.