Business Hurricane Preparedness Essentials
It’s that time again… hurricane season.
Every year, from early June through late November, Florida businesses face the potential of being hit or impacted by a devastating tropical storm or hurricane.
If you’ve recently discovered a hurricane is headed your way, how will you ensure the business you worked so hard to create is protected? Do you have a plan to stay up and running or get back to business once the storm passes?
Since hurricanes often occur unexpectedly, you can quickly run out of time to properly analyze your business and craft that comprehensive disaster recovery plan that everyone keeps talking about.
Don’t panic just yet!
If you’re late in devising your hurricane preparedness plan, we’ll be covering four disaster recovery essentials to protect your business and resume operations during and after a hurricane strike.
Understand the Potential Impact
When it comes to preparing your business for a hurricane, your first step should be to take some time to understand the potential risks your business faces. Knowing the potential impact of the tropical storm should help you identify critical elements necessary for your business to recover swiftly and as smoothly as possible.
Your business may experience the following impacts from a hurricane:
- Damage to the facility from flooding, high winds, and objects (i.e., tree limbs, debris, etc.) that crash through the building.
- Delayed business operations due to extended power outages, road closures, internet outages, and other lasting damages
It’s important to remember that depending on the impact and severity of the hurricane strike, your business may be out of commission for a week or longer.
Knowing these potential impacts helps highlight the following crucial components of an effective business continuity plan: backup and data recovery, communication, and alternative working locations.
Ensure you Can Restore and Access your Critical Data
Data is the heart of your business, and to survive the destructive impacts of a hurricane, you must plan to protect it.
Hurricanes can cause extreme flooding and physical damage, ruining your server or local backups. This hardware damage puts you at risk of losing all the files and data your employees need to work. If you cannot recover this data, you will likely go out of business. In fact, 60% of companies that lose their data end up closing down within 6 months.
So, if you only do one thing to prepare for a hurricane, ensure your critical data (client information, financial files, etc.) is accessible and recoverable throughout the storm. The best way to do this is by using a cloud-based backup.
Backup your data to the cloud
At a minimum, you will need a cloud-based backup implemented to secure all your data safely. Cloud-based backups are essential because they save a copy of your data in a remote server that can be accessed online and later restored, safe from flooding and other physical threats.
Since you typically receive a warning of a pending hurricane, be sure to test your backups to ensure they work properly before the storm hits. The last thing you want to do is give yourself a false sense of security regarding data protection. If your backup software is not updated, the correct folders aren’t backed up, or your backups are old, you could be in big trouble when attempting to recover all your data once the storm has passed.
Plan to Keep Business Communication Flowing
Maintaining communication is a key component of business continuity. When a hurricane hits, if your facility becomes damaged or a power outage occurs, you’ll need to figure out how to maintain communication between suppliers, employees, and clients. Staying in contact with these individuals is essential in preventing your internal processes from coming to a rapid halt.
Without a way to communicate effectively, your business could lose revenue, your employees won’t be able to work, deadlines can be missed, and costly overtime may occur. Therefore, devising a communication strategy is vital to your company’s hurricane preparedness.
To create an effective business communication plan, you’ll first need to consider all the facility’s normal daily functions and reflect on what the impact will be if communications were to seize in each different scenario. From here, you should understand what procedures and action plans you’ll need to keep in contact with key personnel.
Depending on the storm’s impact, you can consider using these communication options during a natural disaster.
- Get a second internet provider— If one of your internet providers were to shut down or have performance issues due to the storm’s impact, having a backup provider allows you to resume your online operations, so you don’t experience costly downtime.
- Have a way to forward phone calls— It’s important to know your phone system and service provider options so you can forward calls if phone lines become damaged or you’re unable to work from the facility. Some cloud systems can auto-forward calls to another location if the main office is down. However, some require you to contact the telephone company to assist with call transfers or using an app. It’s important to know what call forwarding process you will need to use before the storm hits to keep communication flowing.
- Set up instant messaging such as Microsoft Teams or Webex—The ability to instant message or video call during an emergency can help you communicate with your team when face-to-face is not possible. Instant messaging apps allow you to contact individuals faster and more efficiently than alternative methods such as email.
Work Remotely, If Possible
If significant flooding and structural damage occur to your facility, your staff will likely be unable to access or work from the establishment after the natural disaster hits. You can prepare for this scenario by having an alternate location available to work from or having your employees set up to work remotely.
Cybercriminals commonly target remote workers due to their tendency to use lower security standards. So, if you plan to have your employees work remotely, you must also ensure their remote network is secure and protected from cyber threats.
To properly secure your employee’s remote connection, you can work with a managed service provider to install proper cybersecurity tools and software or have your staff access the internet using a virtual private network (VPN) to defend against cyber-attacks.
Do you Have an Effective Recovery Process?
In a state of emergency, you don’t have much time to plan for your recovery. However, with a few days’ warning, you can develop a sufficient plan with the disaster recovery essentials mentioned above to keep your business afloat. Depending on the nature of the hurricane, you may need to change your recovery process, so be sure to remain flexible and prepare for best-and worst-case scenarios.
Need help planning for a hurricane?
We’ll help you identify & implement key disaster recovery components so that you can recover quickly and efficiently as possible.
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