3 Things to Consider When Creating Your Office Emergency Plan
You might have a few days warning or you may have no warning, but sooner or later a disaster will show up at your business and you will have to respond to it. How well you respond to it will have a direct correlation as to how successful your business will recover from that event. Take the guesswork out of how well you'll respond to a disaster, by developing your Office Emergency Plan now, before a disaster strikes. To help you get started with developing the building block to your plan, here are 3 things to consider when creating your Office Emergency Plan.
1.) You must know what risks and hazards are around you.
To develop an effective Office Emergency Plan, you need to understand what your business is vulnerable to; both from outside sources and internal sources. This process of categorizing which hazards and risks most threaten your business, employees, and operations is called the "Hazard/Vulnerability Assessment (H/VA)".
H/VA's are incredibly useful, as they allow a business to really focus on the hazards that are most likely to affect their area and operations. For example, preparing for an earthquake is very different from that of a hurricane. So if your particular area has a low threshold or isn't susceptible to earthquakes, then you can focus your attention to planning for hurricanes. Understanding the top threats from outside maximizes your planning resources.
Internal threats to an organization are just as important to consider. Reductions in workforce due to sickness, power outages, hostile threats/employees, and cyber-security are just a few of the threats that can strike a company from the inside. Your assessment must include risks that can potentially cause a slowdown in productivity, loss/reduction in your workforce, or disruption of your operations. Understanding these factors helps an organization plan accordingly when these internal events happen. An example of how to conduct a H/VA or Risk Assessment can be found HERE at Ready.gov.
2.) Create an Incident Management Team
When a disaster/emergency/crisis strikes an organization, there needs to already be in place an Incident Management Team who is tasked with responding to the event. There must be a clearly defined Incident Commander (Leader, Manager, etc. The terms can be company or industry specific, but it must clearly identify who is taking the lead role in managing the event.). The role of the Incident Commander is to oversee the coordination of response and recovery teams/assets in regards to the particular event affecting the organization.
Now the Incident Commander can manage an entire operation alone if the event is a small one and the organization is small. But sometimes an event may strike a company that affects multiple departments across multiple locations or jurisdictions. If an event is large enough, an entire Incident Management Team comprising of staff from all different departments within the organization may have to be created. Lead staff representing Human Resources, Security, Facilities, Media Relations, and other departments may be tasked with receiving direction from the Incident Commander. Establishing a clear chain of command PRIOR to a disaster is critical to effectively respond to an event and minimize confusion and waste of precious time and resources.
3.) Identify which people, operations or functions are most critical and work to safeguard those.
A large event that strikes an organization can affect all departments and lead to a complete shutdown of operations, which in turn can affect revenue, production, data, and reputation. Certain departments may be critical lifelines of a business and cannot withstand any disruption, even for a few minutes. Take manufacturing for example. Perhaps a factory produces widgets that are a critical component to the production of aircraft or vehicles. Any downtime that occurs may cause a ripple effect that delays production in house or elsewhere causing lost revenue and possibly current and future business. Or perhaps Payroll must be kept up and running to accurately ensure everyone's productivity and ensure paychecks go out on time, regardless of a disaster or not.
Anything identified as critical must be protected and safeguarded against any disruption. By taking the completed H/VA that identifies which hazards and risks your organization is most vulnerable to and pairing that to which people, operations, or functions are critical and must be safeguarded, you can start to see where your resources should be going and what you should be planning for.
This all may sound daunting at first, but have no fear. If you need help in developing your Office Emergency Plan, Ready Northwest Emergency Managers are able to help. We have a complete solution to develop your plan HERE. We take care of all the H/VA's and planning while you focus on running your business. Contact us now!