The cost of lost productivity during severe weather isn’t only a nationwide, economic concern but also a source of financial distress for individual businesses. However, can companies avert the loss of output during snow days with tools like telecommuting and virtual meetings?
The Cost of City Shutdowns
The economic impact of the latest U.S. blizzard, Juno, is still only a prediction, but those numbers range from $500 million to $1 billion. The storm cost $230 million in cancelled flights alone, according to the U.S. Travel Association.
Though that’s a high toll, it still doesn’t reach the multibillion impact of the snowstorms in 2014, largely because the scale and duration of Juno was much smaller. But reports also repeat a rising trend among employees: they’re working smarter during severe weather by working from home.
All Is Not Lost When It Comes to Productivity
While travel, sales, hourly wages and snow removal are irrecoverable, The Wall Street Journal points out that much economic activity is simply delayed, and the business output of knowledge workers tends to rebound. Telecommuting helps businesses avoid productivity delays altogether.
Considering snowstorms occur so regularly during winter, experts suggest that economic indicators should be adjusted to account for them, according to the article. Likewise, businesses would be smart to account for severe weather’s predictable influence on productivity by implementing more structured telecommuting programs ahead of time.
Weatherizing the Workforce
Snowstorms are a perfect example of why businesses should allow employees to telecommute. Working from home increases workers’ availability and grants them work-life balance with the flexibility for parents to be home when school’s out.
However, just because workers are telecommuting during severe weather doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being productive. If businesses still have to cancel meetings, employees don’t have the resources they need or they’re spending more time looking at cats online than working, productivity is still lost.
To really weatherize the workforce, companies need:
- Transparent Guidelines: Before businesses turn snow days into work-from-home days, they need to create a clear WFH policy so everyone understands what’s expected of them.
- Better Tools: Implementing the right technology ahead of time is a smart move, too. Instead of delaying meetings and other business activity, teams can hold virtual meetings or locate all the files they need within a centralized team workspace.
- Cybersecurity: New York City experienced 93 percent more computer infections on the first day of the storm, according to Computerworld. Working from home means exposing business resources to often less secure environments. Companies can’t afford to overlook this when they’re letting employees loose with confidential data at home.
- New Approaches to Management: Regular communication with supervisors is essential to successful telecommuting. Teams need to decide ahead of time what the best method and frequency is for them, whether that means face-to-face virtual meetings once a day or ongoing online chats.
Aside from safeguarding productivity, companies with telecommuting programs also keep employees from using snow days to hunt for new jobs. By arming workers with everything they need to successfully work from home before storms hit, businesses also resolve sticky situations when it comes to storms and paychecks.
Give virtual meetings a try and set your team up for success, rain or shine, snow or sleet. PGi’s online meeting solution, iMeet®, is available to try now for 30 days, entirely free.
Featured Image Source: Albumarium