If any business could have it their way, no natural disaster, accident, or act of sabotage would ever get in the way of their work. But business leaders know that it doesn’t work that way. With this in mind, most have gone about protecting their interests through tried-and-tested means like having emergency contingencies in place or purchasing disaster and liability insurance coverage.
Still, there can actually be a lot of room for mistakes when preparing a business for natural and man-made disasters. At their core, these mistakes can be attributed to issues like a lack of communication or a lack of execution when implementing a disaster plan. In any case, any mistake in disaster response can be costly. If it delays return to normal operations, the business could lose tens of thousands of dollars per hour (depending on the business size) and become financially impaired for a long time.
As a business leader, you must commit to getting disaster response right – for the sake of the business and its employees. To that end, here’s a list of things you may be doing wrong, plus some tips on how to correct them before the worst actually happens.
Assuming You’re Fully Prepared
One grave mistake that business owners often make is that they assume they’ve ready and fully prepared. You may think so if you have a disaster plan in place, if you’ve drafted evacuation protocols for your staff, and if you have some emergency supplies and warning systems on the premises.
But has your plan been updated in the last year to accommodate changes in the layout of your workplace or additions to your staff? Are any of your supplies, like emergency food and medicine, already expired? Have you updated your emergency directory to accommodate recent changes in emergency hotline numbers? If your answer to any of these questions is no, then you need to revisit and update your current response plan. When you realize you weren’t fully prepared, then it is already too late.
Not Backing Up Your Digital Assets
A second key mistake is not backing up your business data and having a recovery system in place. In case you need to establish an alternate command center due to your business premises being affected by a disaster, you don’t want to be in a situation where your business data is incomplete or inaccessible
To help you kick your business operations back into gear after a disaster, a more affordable option is to invest in a private cloud DRaaS, or a disaster recovery as a service solution. A quality solution will not only allow you to back up your data, but you will also be able to replicate your whole data environment in the cloud, allowing you to recover your data within minutes. If your business depends on plenty of business-critical digital assets, make sure that these are firmly included in your disaster response plan.
Not Having Evacuation and Recovery Plans Readily Available
Third, many businesses make the mistake of thinking that the buck stops with existing evacuation and recovery plans. They don’t do enough to communicate these plans, or making these plans readily available or accessible by the employees, whether online or as hardcopy. In the worst-case scenario, that means more people will spend time wondering what to do or scrambling to find the plan—and less time actually following it.
Luckily, this mistake can be easily corrected. You just need to make the plans accessible both online and offline, and to make copies that are easily visible in the most convenient places within your business premises. Every time there’s a change to your disaster response plans, communicate the change to the employees via a mandatory meeting. If the plan is easily within reach, everyone will be able to follow the recommended guidelines when something actually happens.
Assuming Your Staff Members Already Know What to Do
A fourth problem when it comes to disaster response pertains to business leaders thinking that everyone already knows what to do in a bad situation. This could be because the company holds occasional drills or seminars for responding to disasters. It’s also easy to assume that employees have easy access to resources for learning about disaster response, like the internet.
But even if you’ve held conventional fire drills for your office or put your employees through seminars on cyberattacks, you can’t assume that everyone will be equally prepared when a disaster happens. It would be best to rehearse a company-wide response to disaster more often, and to designate specific point persons in your company to lead evacuation and recovery efforts. In other words, don’t simply assume a level of preparedness from employees—do everything you can so that you can see that preparedness in practice, too.
Fulfilling Safety Compliance Only for the Sake of Compliance
The last and common mistake you may be committing is not taking your company’s safety compliance efforts very seriously. In truth, the efforts that puts you in compliance with standards like the National Fire Protection Association’s fire prevention code can do a lot to pre-emptively shield your business from significant loss.
It’s always better to be on the safe side and see safety compliance as more than an administrative headache. Ensure that your business premises are safe and in tip-top condition well before the inspectors come (or make sure that the landlords do so). It will also serve you well to go beyond the minimum regulations to make the building fireproof, flood-proof, hurricane-proof, and earthquake-proof.
Now that you know what the most common mistakes are in disaster response, the responsibility is on you, as the business leader, to lead the preparations for your company. Don’t delay in correcting these issues when you see them manifest. The faster you resolve them, the more control you and your staff will have over your disaster response—and the easier it will be for your business to recover from devastating circumstances.