Headlines about floods, wildfires, or hurricanes disrupting businesses and human life are increasingly becoming a norm. Whenever such headlines come by, business owners are affected two-fold. First, the natural disaster might have affected their personal property, forcing them to move to safer grounds. Secondly, the disaster doesn’t spare their businesses as well, forcing them to close operations and ensure that their employees are safe.
As a business owner, you should respond to employees who cannot access your offices or are displaced due to unsafe conditions. Below are some tools that can help in preparing and managing your employees during a disaster.
- Create a WhatsApp Group for Emergencies
Internet or power outages make it impossible for employees to access their emails and other data-sharing platforms. Therefore, you should consider setting up group chats on Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, and other messaging apps with end-to-end encryption during the early stages of the natural disaster. These platforms allow users to send and receive information using mobile data or Wi-Fi.
Even though natural disasters often affect internet infrastructure, one outage often gets fixed before the other. For instance, Puerto Rico experienced serious earthquakes in January 2020. However, most people were able to communicate through mobile networks. Besides, some internet service providers make their public WI-FIs accessible during natural disasters for free.
WhatsApp not only allows for fast communication but also makes it easy for affected persons to share their live location. While most companies already use these platforms for internal communication and collaboration, they should also adopt them in their emergency preparedness plan.
- Use Devices with LEO Connectivity
Despite the recent advancements in technology, satellite internet is far from being common and becoming a necessity. However, LEO or Low Earth Orbit technology is a cheaper and widely available alternative, with most upcoming devices, such as Apple’s iPhone 13, reporting that they will include LEO hardware. This means that users of these gadgets can send and receive messages via satellite internet if 4G or 5G networks are disrupted.
Once they become available, LEO connectivity might be a cost-effective internet solution that can help most global businesses. Alternatively, you can choose to install satellite internet in your employees’ homes. Most satellite internet providers, such as HughesNet and Viasat, have affordable plans for startups and small businesses.
- Inform Your Customers Through Social Platforms
Your emergency preparedness plan should outline how communication will be maintained if a natural disaster strikes. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t communicate properly with their clients during natural disasters. If you have an active presence on social platforms, be it Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, these channels come in handy when announcing changes in business hours or closure of your business.
Fortunately, most customers keep scouring social media platforms for news and updates, including weather changes. However, to ensure that your updates reach the right people, use hashtags and mention the relevant agencies in every post. You should also include the dates and times of your updates so that customers won’t mistake them for an old post. Don’t forget to update your customers through social media after you resume operations.
- Data Backup is Important
Backing up your data is important for overall business benefits. Regardless of your business location or the prevailing season, you should store your paperwork safely. Most businesses store their existing paperwork in offsite locations to avoid losing them in case of a disaster. However, with advancing technology, you should consider backing up your data in the cloud.
Create data backups of important documents, such as tax forms, insurance claims, and payroll information, by uploading them into cloud-based storage systems. By doing this, you will be able to access crucial information on the go to keep your business operational.
- Track Fuel Shortage with GasBuddy
Natural disaster disrupts or makes it impossible to access vital resources for your business. Fortunately, some mobile apps have made it possible to track essential resources, such as fuel during a disaster. If your employees cannot find fuel following a snowstorm or hurricane, GasBuddy can help. The app uses GPS to locate the nearest available gas station. The app also monitors fuel outages in the city.
Small businesses affected by natural disasters often struggle before resuming operations, especially those located in disaster-prone areas. The tools mentioned above come in handy during a natural disaster. They will ensure that your business keeps running as you find natural disaster restoration experts to work out the next steps of recovery from the natural disaster.
Hello, My name is Shari & I am a writer for the ‘Outlook AppIns’ blog. I’m a CSIT graduate & I’ve been working in the IT industry for 3 years.