Weather extremes and other disasters have become a part of our “new normal.” When remote work or flexible hours are part of an organization’s disaster response plan, employees can stay connected to work and businesses can continue to operate at some level of capacity.
During and after “Super Storm” Sandy, most employers hadn’t made flexible work an official part of their business continuity strategy. As a result, both people and businesses suffered unnecessarily.
To illustrate the difference a flexible approach to work can make in the aftermath of a disaster, here is the imarinary story of a person from the a New Jersey town hit hard by the hurricane. Power was out for more than a week. Long lines for gas snaked for over a mile. Huge, uprooted trees lay across almost every yard. The trains into New York City were out of service.
Alex works for a technology company in Manhattan. The night of the storm, a 100-foot tree fell across her driveway and front yard, knocking out power and trapping her, her husband, and two small children in her house. Alex’s boss and her team immediately executed the company’s disaster response plan. Everyone would either work remotely or shift their hours until the power came back on and transportation was back to normal. Each day, Alex walked over to her neighbor’s house that had a generator or sat in her car and used her portable wireless card to get work done. As soon as the town opened a heating/powering station in the Town Hall, she, her husband and two kids, spent part of everyday warming up and working.