During the snowstorm in February 2009, experts said 20% of the UK’s workforce, 6.4 million people, failed to turn up to work. The current bad weather is worse, meaning Britain’s economic output will be hit to the tune of £14.5billion over the next three weeks. Not only will business productivity fall, but local vendors will also suffer reduced turnover and may even be forced to close for the day due to the lack of trade and staff.
In February last year, the snow led to the cancellation of bus services throughout the UK and many schools were closed. Currently, hundreds of schools are closed and there are reports that supplies of grit are running low. Many train lines are also closed or suffering major delays.
Marc Charlton, Media Relations Manager at RSA, said, “In weather conditions such as these, especially with the worry about the lack of grit in some areas, it’s imperative that businesses take extra precautions to help them continue trading. For those who work in offices, ensuring employees can log in to office systems from home will save businesses a lot of aggravation and lost revenue when staff are snowed in. It also means people won’t feel they need to battle on dangerous roads to make it into the office. This is the second year running we’ve seen snow like this – British businesses must equip themselves to operate safely in conditions that keep their staff out of the office.”
To reduce the impact on businesses of days of snow, RSA recommends that the following steps are taken immediately:
- Review your Business Continuity Plan; think about how you’ll best be able to service your customers, suppliers and key stakeholders if your business is disrupted.
- Give early warnings of any problems to your customers and suppliers
- List (in a safe place) the telephone numbers of the people you may need to contact, e.g. insurance company, emergency plumber/electrician.
- Encourage staff to plan alternative routes to work in the event that their usual route is disrupted.
- Speak to your IT department to enable more of your staff to be able to work from home
- Priority areas should be salted and gritted in advance. Arrangement should be made for access routes to be inspected regularly. Temporary signs denoting safe routes may be necessary.
- All staff should be reminded of the need to wear appropriate footwear when coming to work in severe weather conditions.