La Nina 2011-2012 is coming- and it’s going to be rough. Are you ready?

According to their website, The AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team is predicting another brutally cold and snowy winter for a large part of the country, thanks in large part to La Niña… yet again.

La Niña, a phenomenon that occurs when sea surface temperatures across the equatorial central and eastern Pacific are below normal, is what made last year’s winter so awful for the Midwest and Northeast. Monster blizzards virtually shut down the cities of New York and Chicago. Last winter was one of New York City’s snowiest on record.

La Niñas often produce a volatile weather pattern for the Midwest and Northeast during winter due to the influence they have on the jet stream. The graphic below shows the position the jet stream typically takes over the U.S. during La Niña.

 

Winter 2011 2012

It doesn't look so good!!!

So, besides dealing with a lot of snow and ice, what does this mean for your business and how are you preparing for it?

Here are some valuable thoughts on what you should be doing for communications continuity planning.

1. Employees: Do you have a method to notify employees about snow days – when not to come to the office? It may sound mundane, but if you don’t, then the costs can be significant as soon as hourly employees start clocking in on days that the business is closed.

Suggestion:  A written policy that is communicated to all employees about snow days that includes:

Will they be announced by an email or by a phone tree?

Who will be sending the email or making the calls?

When will this be determined?

How will at home employees be compensated?

What work activities are they expected to do from home?

2. Customers: How will you notify your customers that your business is closed?

Suggestion: A written policy communicated to your key sales staff

Will you announce via an email or phone tree?

Who will be sending the email or making the calls?

How will your automated attendant greeting be changed? By whom? Saying what? When?

 3. Practice Beforehand! Don’t wait until your first snow day to practice implementing your plan. You should have a dry run

If you are using emails to communicate to your clients, make sure that the database is accurate. Make sure that the phone numbers for employees are accurate.

Make sure that you can change greetings.

Recommendations: Did you know that IP based systems and can enhance your ability to function on days when you can’t get to the office? Either our Allworx System, Avaya or S-NET Hosted Solutions can enable your work at home employees to log in remotely and work as if they were in the office. When combined with remote login capabilities on your network, your employees can work – answering calls, dealing with clients as if they were at their desks.

It looks like it is going to be another long, hard winter. We know what to expect – but the key is getting ready in advance. I remember the story about an out of work actor who finally got a one line part in a play. He had to say “Hark, I hear the cannons roar”. This actor practiced his line- on the subway, walking to the theater, in make up. Finally, he gets on stage, hears a loud BOOM- and yells “What the hell was that!?”. Moral of the story: Don’t wait until Mother Nature drops a foot of snow overnight. Make sure you have a plan that has been practiced and works!

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About Vic Levinson
Telecommunications and IT professional with over 20 years experience in Business Telecommunications. Specializing in voice over IP (VoIP) for business: hosted VoIP, business VoIP phone systems, SIP providers, carriers, T1's - the works. Founded Prime Telecommunications in 1993 and providing business communications solutions. Cloud Applications- everything from hosted network security, hosted Disaster Recovery, hosted printer management, data centers and colocation solutions for businesses.

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