The impact of power outages on businesses is usually highlighted in the news when hurricanes, heavy flooding, or earthquakes take down an electric grid or transmission network and devastate business operations in a city or even an entire state. However, it’s not only during natural disasters that the impact of power outages on businesses is felt. Even regular power interruptions can impair business operations.
Usually, aside from the reported amounts of estimated losses, people don’t have the faintest idea how much their companies are at risk. And if you don’t know what was lost, you won’t know how to prevent it from happening again.
One of the most effective ways to mitigate the business risks of power outages is to have your own electricity generator. There are even those who go to the extent of getting their own containerized diesel generators. Power outages will basically impact two main aspects of your business—your physical equipment and operations, as well as your cyber operations and workflow. Here are a few suggested ways to mitigate the impact of power outages on your business:
Have A Plan For Managing Power Outages
The first thing to do to mitigate business risks of power outages is to have a plan. This shouldn’t be the first time that you’ve heard of or experienced a power outage. By now, you already have a pretty good idea of what happens during a blackout.
If the last time the lights went out your office didn’t have reserve emergency lights, or there was no generator yet, learn from these past experiences and create a plan. Maybe your internet routers weren’t connected to emergency battery packs or there were no rechargeable battery chargers for gadgets and smartphones.
Plan by identifying what your office or workplace needs when the power goes out. Do you need to install emergency lights in every cubicle or room? How about the hallways and toilets? Would you need battery chargers for your workers’ electronic devices and phones? Would you need spotlights and flashlights so your workers can go down the stairs safely on their way home when the elevator shuts down? Taking all these factors into account, you should then make preparations such as getting your own portable or mini-generator.
Make Sure Your Employees And Customers Are Safe
You have to plan and make sure that your employees are safe, as well as the customers who were caught by the power outage in your office, shop, or workplace. People tend to have a higher chance of getting into an accident or mishap during power outages.
When a power outage happens during a hurricane, floors and stairs may become slippery, while escalators and elevators become usable. Power lines can go down and might remain unnoticed if they’re underwater during floods. Thus, you should train your employees and workers on what to do during these scenarios. This just might save your business unnecessary costs in contributions for medical and hospital expenses of injured employees, which could have been avoided.
With a safety plan, you also avoid having to sideline injured employees whose work might be critical to your business operations. The impact of their absence could amount to tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenues. If your workers are on a group accident insurance package, too many claims can also increase your plan premiums, and you’ll incur additional expenses.
Prevent Damages To Your Equipment
As part of your safety plan, you should also have a standard office procedure on what company equipment to turn off or disconnect. By doing this, you not only prevent potential fire hazards or electrical failures but also prevent the accidental electrocution of anyone in the workplace. You can include this in your transition to robotic process automation.
During hurricanes and heavy flooding, anticipate the potential exposure of outlets and wires to rainfall and floodwater. By disconnecting your equipment from the power source ahead of time, you’ll help prevent severe damage to the machines. You’ll be able to use them longer, resulting in savings on capital outlay for office equipment repurchase or replacement.
If the employees left in your workplace aren’t familiar with your procedure for disconnecting large machines, assembly lines, and other equipment, you should have a point person that they can contact and ask for instructions on what to do.
Document Events For Insurance Claims
As part of your measures to mitigate the business risks of power outages, you should also consider getting insurance coverage for any potential damages to the equipment, assembly lines, and processing machines your business uses. You invested a lot of money to purchase and install that set of equipment. They’re indispensable and crucial to your business operations. You might not meet customer orders if you can’t replace them immediately after being damaged during a severe power outage.
To make sure that you can back your insurance claims in the event that your equipment gets damaged in a power outage, you have to instill the practice of proper documentation. Most insurance companies require proof that you did everything you can conceivably do to prevent loss or damage to your machinery. You should train your employees on how to document events and assign a point person to enforce these practices.
Have A Downtime Plan For Cyberinfrastructure
This next suggestion is particularly important if internet connectivity is critical to your business operations. You have to plan how to manage downtime caused by power outages. If your business is a call center or a business process outsourcing (BPO) hub, a lot of your operations depend on having continuous internet connectivity. If your workers are taking calls from customers in other countries, you can lose hundreds or thousands of dollars in potential revenues when your lines go down.
You should have a plan with several contingencies on where to divert business demand or workflow in case of a severe power outage. Moreover, in today’s business environment, even if you’re not primarily online, your cyberinfrastructure and internet connectivity is still critical to your communications. Customer inquiries or even purchase orders might still go through social media pages, and this could spell the difference between a sale or a missed opportunity if your workers aren’t able to respond promptly due to the power outage.
A lot of people may take it for granted now but electricity is an indispensable part of running a business. The importance of electricity in business extends beyond powering light bulbs so workers can see what they’re doing. Electricity powers both the physical and cyber aspects of business operations. Without it, your workers won’t be able to power your industrial machines or assembly lines. You won’t even get business inquiries from outside apart from local calls. Therefore, make sure you keep these tips in mind so your business is ready for whatever life throws at you.