Collapse in Atlanta…Ramp Up Telework

Do you have an emergency remote work plan in place? Don’t commute your life away.
5 min read | by Jennifer Cameron
Atlanta Bridge Collapse

March 30, 2017, has officially been marked as the cause for a transportation crisis in Atlanta, Georgia. A massive fire on Interstate 85 caused a bridge to collapse. Closing interstates where more than 1.2 million people pass through weekly leads to commuter chaos. Major players like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and State Farm are urging people to use public transportation or telecommute as a result of the fire. City officials have estimated the connector will not be open again for at least ten weeks. It did not help matters when two weeks later there was a toxic chemical spill on the freeway shutting down a major highway in Atlanta and on the other side of the city travelers on I-20 spotted a section of road start to buckle up into the air shutting down all lanes of the interstate. These unrelated bizarre events were unpredictable, but they happened and now everyone is trying to find the best way to deal with it.

It should not take catastrophic events like a major highway going up in flames for your company to put an emergency preparedness plan into place. Do not be caught scrambling to find ways to accommodate employees who cannot get to the brick-and-mortar office due to an emergency. But, if you are like the many who are stuck trying to find alternate routes to downtown Atlanta right now, an opportunity has presented itself. Establish a business continuity plan.

Employer: Prepare Your Company with a Business Continuity Plan

Establishing your continuity plan includes assessing your telework options. A sure way to certify your productivity levels will not be negatively impacted when major national or local disruptions occur is by giving employees the tools they need to work from home or other remote locations. By developing procedures ahead of time, there should be a seamless transition for employees to begin working remotely.

Not taking advantage of this opportunity is equivalent to throwing cash away. You are almost guaranteed to have a drop in sales and customer satisfaction.

For example, 2013 Superstorm Sandy: “Top challenges for small businesses during or after the storm were: customer issues, employee issues, supplier issues….71% of impacted small business owners experienced a power outage…44% reported that it took seven days or more (some for weeks) to open their doors again…52% of impacted small business owners experienced loss of sales or revenue.” Remember Hurricane Katrina? Or perhaps your city is selected to host a Superbowl…eh hem, looking at you ATL..2019 Superbowl. These are other illustrations of economic disruption. While not always that extreme, unplanned circumstances arise all the time.

Essentially, job duties should remain in tact and performance expectations should go unchanged. You need to determine what and how technology is used; whether equipment needs to be deployed; whether weekly and monthly schedules be the same; the frequency of communication and tools to be used; how meetings will be conducted; establish secure, shared electronic locations for information to be retrieved; finally, offer helpful tips to employees on how to be successful in a work-from-home environment. By establishing and testing telework alternatives now, you will be in much better shape when there is a call to action. And you never know, you may find that you are equally as productive with distributed employees and transition to a permanent, money-saving situation.


Traffic in Atlanta

Employee: Skip the Commute, Prove Telework…works

Do you have an old-school supervisor with outdated concepts of how to manage people and processes? Are you dealing with the ‘if I can’t see them, how do I know they’re working’ syndrome? Or the ‘but I’ll lose control’ manager? Telework has been happening for a very long time. It has evolved and quite rapidly, thanks to technology.

Employees….this is also an opportunity for you to go to your manager and suggest a telework option, especially when situations like unplanned highway fires and chemical spills make already manic traffic conditions a complete catastrophe.

Two hour traffic delays each way, everyday is not feasible. This is a chance to prove you can just as easily be reliable, efficient and effective away from the office. BUT, respect the manager’s hesitation (whether you agree with it or not) and perhaps start small..prove things will not fall apart by only working from home on Tuesdays and then add a day. Or work your mornings remotely and go into the office in the afternoon. Gradually prove your productivity value outside of the traditional office. Build trust. This is the key…maybe even to your telework future.

Mutually Beneficial

Teleworking is a win-win solution for both employees and employers. This goes beyond emergency situations, too. Being prepared in the event of disaster is simply good business strategy. But telework options, even as a byproduct of a continuity plan or on a trial basis, is advantageous. It allows employees to be accountable. Let the work speak for itself. It minimizes constant distractions for people so focus on work increases. Employees tend be more loyal and engaged when given the flexibility of telework options. These are money-savers for a company. Businesses can also begin to calculate the savings on lower overhead (real estate, utilities, supplies, and equipment). Not having to provide a physical space for your team enables a business owner to put resources back into company operations. A 2013 report by found that employers of telecommuters annually save roughly $11,000 per employee through the elimination of furnishings, maintenance, parking and phones. Furthermore, studies show that performance increases when employees are given ways to increase work-life integration through telework. These factors will certainly favor your bottom-line.

Be prepared. Be forward-thinking. Be effective. Do telework.

Originally Published by Jennifer Cameron on Friday, April 21, 2017 | Updated on Wednesday, April 3, 2024
Disaster Contingency
, Telework
, Human Resources Today
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