When a weather emergency strikes, effective communication is a top priority. And, when it comes to navigating such a challenging experience, preparation can make all the difference in getting the right information to stakeholders in a timely manner. When paired with a comprehensive emergency plan, business communication solutions can help your organization stay connected regardless of whether the weather outside is frightful or delightful. Here's what every business should know about organizing a timely and effective communications response in the event of a disaster:
Creating an Emergency Communications Plan
Your business will need a comprehensive emergency communications plan in order to get through a crisis event with as little disruption or confusion as possible. With the benefit of such a plan, everyone can be confident they are on the same page and know what must be done. It goes without saying that this is not the type of document that can be created on the fly in an ad hoc manner when an actual weather emergency is underway.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — and this is especially true when it comes to disaster planning. A business continuity planner is typically engaged to handle the emergency communications section of an overall business continuity plan in advance of any disaster or crisis that may affect the business. This plan is continually refined and updated as business conditions change.
Immediately after a weather emergency has begun, a team leader will need to convene the emergency communications team in order to make critical, time-sensitive business decisions. Business communication solutions can be leveraged to support them in this task. The team may find it best to meet via video conference, audio conference, or even a group messaging session. They will likely need to be able to call up important documents referencing the emergency communications plan, including employee contact lists, during the meeting so they can begin tracking their progress in responding to the disaster. They will also probably need to speak with the senior management team in order to coordinate a response and message about the event.
Confirming Employee Safety
Another factor to consider in an emergency communications plan is how the business will confirm the location of all its employees. Here, too, business communication solutions can play an important role. For example, if voice circuits are overloaded and it's difficult to get a phone call out, it may be helpful instead to use text messaging to contact staff and ensure their safety. If your business uses a cloud-based unified communications solution, the presence information it provides may be particularly useful. Just by glancing at an employee's messaging presence, a business has a better indication of whether they are online and can be reached to verify their current location and status. This can speed up the process of determining how many employees, if any, have been affected by the event.
Configuring Internal and External Alerts
Internal alerts should be configured in order to keep employees appraised of updates and critical information during a disaster. For example, a business may use text messages, email, a VoIP paging system, or even instant messages to let staff know they must evacuate a building, rally at an assembly point, or remain home in the event the office is inaccessible for a certain period of time. A business should consider which methods of communication are best suited to different groups of employees, such as telecommuters or staff traveling domestically or internationally. And if the business has regional or overseas offices, disasters specifically affecting those locations should be included in an emergency communications plan as well.
External alerts are designed specifically with external stakeholders in mind. For example, they could include emails or phone calls with status updates to key clients or business partners on whether or how standard business operations have been affected during a weather emergency and what to expect as a result. Or, they could involve phone calls to families whose loved ones have been injured or whose whereabouts are not yet known. Likewise, communications involving the media or PR professionals representing the company may be important to factor in at this time.
How Cloud-Based Communications Solutions Can Help
Speed is of the essence when marshaling an effective communications response in the wake of a weather emergency. When creating an emergency communications plan for your company, a business continuity planner will likely prioritize communications channels that can quickly be leveraged to convene response teams or get information out to internal and external stakeholders in the event of a disaster.
For this reason, it can be helpful to have a cloud-based business communications solution in your corner. Because it is designed with high availability in mind and offers many different channels for communicating, this type of technology can be a valuable asset to make sure communications flow smoothly for your company in the event of an emergency. With the right tools and a strong emergency communications plan in place, your business can confidently weather any storm.
Contact Vonage Business to learn more about how cloud-based communications can help your company.