As we woke up this morning to the worst snow since 1991 the Federation of Small Businesses estimates that one-in-five workers will fail to reach work today, at a cost of £1.2bn to the British economy.
“All businesses will be affected by weather like this, so they need to prepare to avoid unnecessary downtime,” comments Stephen Beynon, MD of ntl:Telewest Business. He says that home broadband connections and remote working facilities are “crucial” if businesses are to avoid lost revenue.
“The British weather seems to be getting even less predictable so organisations need to have a continuity plan in place to ensure that operations do not hit a standstill when the worst happens. Today’s snow is the most heaviest and widespread than the South East has seen in 18 years, so it is an indisputable fact that there will be severe travel disruption and employees cannot make it in to the office. Businesses can prepare for this with a flexible working policy so that employees can still be productive and their continue work, wherever they are.”
“The bottom line is this – all business face being affected by weather like this, so firms need to adequately prepare so that they can maintain a competitive advantage and avoid unnecessary downtime. With a home broadband connection and remote working facilities, a business can easily continue its operations and avoid any lost revenue – which is crucial in any economic climate,” said Stephen Beynon, MD of ntl:Telewest Business.
Elsewhere Tim Bishop, director of strategy at Siemens Enterprise Communications notes that widespread availability for broadband, combined with more flexible working practices, means that it’s far easier for employees to work from home at a moment’s notice.
“Examples of more adaptive approach include unified communications, where home workers can be brought into contact centre-based customer services, to make up for staff that cannot travel into the usual call centre. In the UK, many local authorities will provide advice and support to elderly residents through contact centres that are staffed by office and home-based staff, should poor weather continue.”
Michael Calvert, UK General Manager of Aastra, comments, “While the roads may be snowed under, the information superhighway is clear. With such weather conditions predicted it is not surprising that many workers will choose to escape the snow and work from home. Unfortunately though, many companies do not have a communications infrastructure which is flexible enough to allow their workers to be productive wherever they are. Even if such adverse weather conditions are short lived, the cumulated impact on companies’ performance can be significant.“
“With many workers able to do their job equally well, if not better, from home, it’s a wonder more companies are not encouraging flexible working and equipping staff with the right, readily-available technology that could allow them to work from home as effectively as at their desks . Companies should identify which jobs can be performed irrespective of location. To address situations where the normal service could be disrupted and have an impact on the customer experience or order intake, equipping staff to work remotely is also an important consideration to take into account for contingency plans. For example, call centre agents can also work remotely with the same level of supervision and tools as in an office environment.”
“Flexible working technologies such as Voice over Internet Protocol phones can make it possible for many people to work from home and can even reduce the cost of calls, while making team interaction more effective. When selecting communication solutions, companies should be prioritising those offering a seamless integration of remote staff, as well as mobile workers, and for more efficiency and to be ready to move to flexible working now or in the future.”