When we think about business risks, we often overlook some of the most destructive factors. There’s so much focus on protecting assets from malicious cyber attacks and human error—especially in law firms—that most fail to prepare for the impact of natural disasters on your firm.
In the wake of multiple hurricanes and flooding, earthquakes, and most recently, the most destructive wildfire to hit California, business owners now have to face a sobering truth—that businesses, regardless of industry, are dangerously vulnerable in the face of natural disasters. Forty percent of small businesses are unable to recover from a major disaster. Despite multiple warnings and precautionary tales, businesses somehow still fail to prepare and anticipate these kinds of emergencies and scenarios until it’s too late.
A lot of organizations consider natural disasters only in the context of ensuring employee safety. And while this is a significant and primary priority for any firm, they fail to recognize the impact that these scenarios can have on long-term operations. The point is, forward thinking and planning can spell the difference between a firm’s survival after a natural disaster. So let’s take a look at the different aspects of the business that you have to consider:
Impact Of Natural Disasters On Your Firm: Documents and Records
A lot of firms rely on physical documents and records for their operations. From contracts to ledgers, reports, and files, these paper documents are likely the lifeblood of your firm. In the event of a disaster, losing them can be catastrophic for your organization.
What you can do….
The logical first move is to make sure that you keep multiple copies of these documents—one at your office and another in a different location, away from possible natural disasters and calamities. If you have the option to go the extra mile, consider migrating a copy of your important documents to the cloud as well. You can sign up for a third party provider who can help you with this, or avail the services of a managed services provider who can lend their expertise for this purpose.
Create a complete and comprehensive inventory of your critical documents. This may include the following:
- Insurance documents
- Certificates and licenses
- Banking records
- Hard copies of employee records
- Client records
Impact Of Natural Disasters On Your Firm: Communications
A lot of businesses focus on the safety of their team members in the event of a disaster—and rightly so. Whether it’s a hurricane, an earthquake, or a wildfire, firms prioritize accounting for all their employees and making sure everyone is safe. Nothing is scarier than realizing that you are unable to find someone in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.
What you can do….
Create a centralized and updated list with your team members contact details and emergency contacts. Try setting up a dedicated social media page accessible to everyone in the team and their immediate emergency contacts so everyone can find a way to update family members regarding the status of their loved ones.
Next, once you’ve accounted for the safety of everyone in the team and will want to start resuming operations, you will want to create alternative communication lines. Phone lines are typically the first to suffer and hardest to recover during natural disasters, so you want to set up interim platforms that will facilitate communication between colleagues and clients. Try creating a webpage where centralized updates can be collected and posted so employees can have access to relevant information necessary to continue operations after a natural disaster.
Impact Of Natural Disasters On Your Firm: Physical office
To be clear, there are no locations that can 100% guarantee safety from natural disasters. That said if your site is known to be particularly vulnerable to frequent natural disasters, its best to prepare and ensure that you can quickly resume operations in case of an emergency.
What you can do….
Establishing a secondary or alternative location where you can pick up where you left of is your best bet. Granted, maintaining two physical offices can be expensive for certain organizations—especially for smaller-scale businesses. So a great alternative would be to allow your team members to work remotely.
Remote working options can easily be managed with the right backend platform supporting you. Whether you’re leveraging on hosted VoIP, unified communications, or a managed services provider to keep operations running smoothly, this is one of the smartest business continuity options that you can consider for your business.
One of the hardest lessons that many firms learn after surviving a natural disaster is that planning is critical to their survival. Losing everything in the wake of a natural calamity doesn’t have to be the only option. There are steps and methods that you can implement to prevent this from happening. The bottom line is—a disaster plan is essential for any firm—even if you don’t think you’ll ever have to use it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.