Hurricane season is almost over but we’re not in the clear yet. If you haven’t made preparations, now is a great time to revisit the subject. As if this year doesn’t have enough challenges, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the busiest storm seasons in recorded history. Most businesses are still operating in a remote environment because of the Coronavirus pandemic. Yet, how do you hurricane proof your office when your “office” is spread out over so many physical locations? The same basic principles of hurricane prep apply:
- Asset inventory
- Physical Preparation
- Cloud Storage and Backups
An organization’s most important asset is always its employees. Some companies have fully come back to work on premise. Many others, however, are in a hybrid model. Therefore, knowing which employees are showing up to the office and which are staying home is critical. Create an accurate list of those employees who are on premise and those who are working remotely.
Additionally, you need an accurate list of valuable items on and off site. This includes desktop computers, monitors, laptop computers, printers, docks, webcams, servers and any other peripheral devices. Be sure to include the make, model, serial numbers and licenses owned. It’s especially important to know what company-issued items are with which remote employees. This kind of documentation, however, isn’t just part of hurricane prep. Your IT service provider or in-house IT department should have this information as part of their standard documentation. They ought to be using more than just an excel spreadsheet to keep track of all that information. We use IT Glue for this documentation. Their service allows us to keep track of users, their respective locations, their assigned equipment and so much more!
When a hurricane watch becomes a hurricane warning, it’s time for physical preparation. There is perhaps nothing worse than arriving at the office the day after the storm and finding out that all your equipment has been damaged because of lack of preparation. Especially when there are several options for protecting your computers from a hurricane. The most important of which is to unplug them and either place them on a raised surface if there is a possibility of flooding or unplug them and place them in a plastic bin if there is a possibility of ceiling or window damage and leaking.
Whether your employees are on or off premise, instruct them to unplug all machines, cover them in plastic and put them in a safe place. Moreover, if your area is prone to flooding, store those items as high as possible. However, whatever cannot be lifted from its place should be secured under anti-static tarp. If possible, disconnect all networked devices from their cables and cover those devices in anti-static tarp as best you can. Most large office printers are too heavy to move. Therefore, unplug them, remove their network cables and cover them with anti-static tarp.
Cloud Storage and Backups
Make sure to create backup digital copies of important paperwork such as insurance documents, legal contracts and tax returns. Once copied, seal all important documents in a water-safe container and keep onsite. Save digital copies to the cloud using a cloud service provider whose servers are not in the path of the storm. Cloud storage is the best option for backing up data. All organizations should have a full backup ready to go in the event of a storm. While your company might have a backup service in place, you need to be sure that backup will work. Go through a recovery drill before disaster strikes to make certain that your restoration is seamless. In other words, don’t leave any stone unturned.
Create an employee call-in line for emergencies. Unfortunately, cell phone service gets knocked out during hurricanes and takes time to come back online. This line should have recorded messages with the latest weather advisories and information regarding company openings and closures. Employees should call the line every 6 to 12 hours for the latest information. Additionally, this line should let employees leave a voicemail. This form of communication will keep all your employees informed until data towers come back online and emails, texts and other social media communications are restored.
Hurricane prep is vital. Your company can’t afford to leave anything to chance. A natural disaster can be a make or break event for a company. An estimated 75 percent of businesses without continuity planning will fail within three years of a disaster. If you have questions about how to prepare your business and employees for a hurricane, give us a call. We’ve been braving storms for our customers for 15 years. We can help get you ready for whatever may come.