The winter of 2017-2018 dropped more than 190 inches of snow on Erie, Pennsylvania, the hometown and namesake of Erie Insurance. On one day during the week of Christmas, 65 inches fell. Roads and businesses were forced to close… but at Erie Insurance, many teams didn’t skip a beat.
Sombath Inthavong, a product rating and analytics manager at ERIE, was a part of one of the teams that were able to carry on with business as usual. How? By deploying a business continuity plan.
Inthavong and his team telecommuted that entire week, bypassing the need to brave the elements and keeping ERIE running smoothly. Telecommuting allowed the team to maintain business functions without interruption.
“Preparation is the key to success,” said Inthavong, who facilitated practice drills with his team well before the snow started falling. “Our team had practiced different scenarios throughout the year, so when the time came to put our business continuity plan in place, we were ready.”
Your customers will often expect you to be open for business and available despite significant challenges. Here are some considerations for telecommuting safely and smoothly:
- Make a plan. Consider mission-critical functions to your business, potential scenarios that could derail them, and alternative plans such as telecommuting. Weather events, power outages, local warnings, or personal matters such as family emergencies are some examples of instances in which you plan to ask your employees to telecommute. Not sure where to start? Ready.gov offers business continuity planning templates, strategies, team exercises, and more.
- Practice makes perfect. Run through likely scenarios and test ways in which your team will be notified, such as via email or a text or call tree. “Getting confirmations from everyone in a timely manner can be difficult, so make sure you factor in that timing to your plan,” Inthavong said. Consider how long it may take to inform your team so they can plan accordingly and prepare to telecommute when it’s not just a drill.
- Prepare the home office. Even if you and your employees will be telecommuting on a limited, as-needed basis, you will likely need the same tools as full-time telecommuters. A few key factors to consider include having adequate Internet speed and pre-programming any necessary video conferencing or data and file sharing platforms. Read this related blog article on setting up a home office to check all your ready-to-telecommute boxes.
- Call in reinforcements. Having a business insurance policy with ERIE also means having the support of ERIE’s risk control consultants. A consultant can perform a risk assessment at your place of business to help you identify hazards and potential causes of business interruptions. What you learn from the assessment can be applied to your business continuity plan.
- Start today. Get started on your business continuity plan to save yourself from lost productivity and profits. Reach out to your local ERIE agent to make sure your business insurance covers telecommuting from a home office.
Some things you just can’t anticipate (that’s why we’re here!) but others are made easier with preparation. When we say we’re with you, we mean you have our undivided attention when you need it. At ERIE, we’re here to understand your business, anticipate future needs, help when things go wrong, and get you back to business right away.