As if organisations have not got enough to worry about. Already hit by rising costs, wage inflation and talent shortages, National Grid has raised the possibility of rolling power cuts across this winter.
While they emphasize that the likelihood of this happening is low, how well are you and your staff prepared should the worst happen?
The risks clearly vary between organisations. Does everybody work centrally? Is the organisation protected from power cuts because of what they do? Or do you have a lot of homeworkers, one or two of whom could be out of action for up to 3 hours?
Like most other risks, the sooner you start preparing the better. Obviously, the organisation needs to decide on business continuity in the event of a cut, but also how do they protect their vital data, stock and their workforce? Especially as this is most likely to happen when demand for power is at its highest, and the weather is likely to be at its coldest.
To start with, consider the following questions, whether you have answers to them
- Do you have a backup generator or emergency power supplies for your main places of work?
- Can you easily divert phones? Can you do so remotely if necessary?
- How do you ensure essential equipment keeps working?
- Are staff instructed to keep their mobiles and laptops fully charged?
- Do they need backup power packs for an emergency, or is, for example, working from the car a possibility?
- Do you need to pay particular attention to data backup during power cuts?
- Do staff who need to stay connected have enough data on their company mobile phones to allow them to access the Internet?
- Can they switch to an alternative location, such as a hotel, café or a temporary office?
- Do you need to source emergency lighting, even if it is only torches and battery powered desk lamps (we do not recommend candles!)?
- What is your plan for reopening after a power cut, especially if the power comes back on after everyone has gone home?
There are probably plenty of other questions you need to consider, but putting these plans into place now, and communicating them to your staff means there is less panic and more planning if the worst-case scenario happens.
And, if you need to order the batteries, torches or emergency power packs, it might be better to do so now before the panic buying starts.
Finally, consider how this will affect your staff themselves. What is your policy if you have to close a work location? If the power cut happens during the day, with sufficient light, do you have any alternative work that people can do that does not rely on power? Perhaps that stockroom has needed clearing for years, although all this is needed repainting or for a deep cleanse of the kitchen. There are probably always useful jobs that can be done if nothing else is possible.
The Government has suggested that vital infrastructure will be protected. Does that include schools and nurseries? If not, will parents and carers suddenly have to drop everything to look after their children? What will the organisation’s policy be in that situation?
This winter promises to be challenging enough for organisations, should you be unlucky enough to be hit by a power cut make sure you are well enough prepared.
The guidance provided in this article is just that – guidance. Before taking any action, make sure that you know what you are doing, or call an expert for specific advice.