Is Your Tech Company Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

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Is Your Tech Company Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

Wed, 09/22/2021 - 07:05

No matter where your tech company operates, it’s unrealistic to hope that you’ll never have to deal with a natural disaster of some kind. Fortunately, preparing for one is the best way to increase your chances of limiting the damage and having a full and speedy recovery. 

Get Equipped To Handle the Most Likely Disasters 

While developing your tech company’s products, you probably researched to narrow down the target audience. Aim to do something similar when assessing which disasters pose the biggest risks to your company and its staff. 

For example, if you’re in California, tornadoes are rare and typically weak. Hurricanes are even less common. On the other hand, wildfires occur extremely frequently throughout prolonged periods. 

Consider listing all possible natural disasters. Then, assign a numerical value to them based on your research. Prioritize getting ready for the issues that pose the most significant threats first.

Establish a Data Backup Plan

Tech companies are especially likely to keep massive amounts of data. Perhaps some of it is information used to train an artificial intelligence algorithm in progress. Alternatively, you might have confidential documents detailing the specifics of your proprietary technology.

Natural disasters could compromise both physical and digital documents. For example, a flood might swamp hard drives and file cabinets alike. That’s why disaster preparedness resources from the United States government recommend performing regular backups and verifying they went as expected. Consider creating digital versions of your most essential physical documents as a practical way to plan for the worst.

Choosing a cloud provider is a strategic way to get your tech company ready for a natural disaster. However, if you take that approach, confirm that the company has measures in place in case Mother Nature wreaks havoc. 

Assign a Role to Each Employee

Responding correctly to a natural disaster is a team effort. It’s more likely to go smoothly when every worker at your tech company knows precisely what to do in an emergency. Having a thorough plan helps people react faster during a crisis and prevents confusion. Plus, getting the right information to each person gives the impression that things are as under control as possible.

Once disaster strikes, an employee’s duty might be as seemingly simple as moving things away from the windows and towards the center of a room. However, they might also need to keep track of everyone in a department and ensure they evacuate safely. The crucial thing is to ensure everyone knows their responsibilities before a disaster hits. That knowledge will help them feel confident enough to act. 

Employee roles could extend to notifying off-site workers, too. For example, your tech company may operate in several states, including those not affected by a disaster. It may be necessary to say things like, “Although our Texas offices are temporarily closed, our Tennessee branch is operating as normal.” 

Plan a Safe Office Return 

It could be unnecessarily stressful and unsafe to have everyone return to the office at once following a natural disaster. The ideal approach is to have one person visit and report the conditions to others. However, that should only happen after local authorities deem it safe to visit a site. They should look for any damage or outages that could negatively impact productivity. 

Here are some possible questions to consider:

  • Is there structural damage that puts people’s safety at risk?
  • Has internet connectivity been restored after an outage?
  • Can people feasibly work from home if preferred?
  • Are the roads surrounding your business safe for commuters?

It’s also vital to remember that damage from a natural disaster inevitably spans beyond your business. Maybe you were lucky enough that your building and its assets were virtually untouched. However, that’s probably not the case for every employee. Make it clear that your company will support workers in every way possible and invite them to be specific about what they need. 

If your business suffered damage, think about how it may be challenging for workers to concentrate with repairs underway. If you’re on a tight budget, the best approach may be to address the most critical damage first. Consider both what’s necessary to help your employees make the most of their time at work and how the damage negatively impacts customers. 

Consider How Your Tech Business Could Help the Community 

Tech company representatives are often well-positioned to use their expertise to assist others during a crisis. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, tech brands were among the first to start working on contact tracing apps. These businesses could prove advantageous during natural disasters, too. 

For example, IBM frequently mobilizes teams to set up cloud resources in disaster-affected areas. The employees who participate in those missions also love chances to make long-term positive changes in a community as well as meet immediate needs. 

While planning what your company must do to get ready for a disaster, spend time thinking about what strengths the business has that could come in particularly handy during adverse circumstances. The most obvious advantage of that is that you’re able to make meaningful contributions during dire circumstances. However, once the worst passes, people in the community may also feel more eager to do business with you based on the help you offered during a crisis, 

Test Your Disaster Response and Recovery Plans

Statistics indicate that more than 30% of businesses don’t reopen after catastrophic weather events. Various factors inevitably influence how well a company can deal with a storm. However, preparedness is undoubtedly an essential aspect. It means planning how to react to a natural disaster, plus testing to make sure the strategy works. That goes for your immediate actions, as well as those that stimulate recovery over a longer period. 

It may seem on paper that your plans should work flawlessly in an emergency. However, you don’t want to be proven wrong under pressure. Similar to how tech companies test app updates and website additions to check that they work, you should take the time to do that with your disaster plans. 

If real-world testing reveals shortcomings, it may be worthwhile to approach people at other tech companies in the area and see how their preparedness measures differ from yours. Get feedback from team members after they take part in the mock disaster drills, too. Ask them which aspects posed the most challenges or a lack of clarity. That feedback will give you good starting points for making improvements. 

Disaster Preparedness Makes Good Business Sense

Tech company leaders juggle numerous responsibilities. They may initially find it difficult to justify putting resources into getting ready for disasters, especially if they’re seemingly not imminent threats. 

However, many scientists agree that natural disasters are likely to get even worse in the future due to the increasing effects of climate change. Plus, taking preparedness seriously is an excellent way to show current and potential customers you’re a reliable business partner and assure employees you’re ready to keep them safe.