I have fond memories of Japan. I have visited the country four times, spent one memorable night sleeping on the floor of a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, and several months studying at Sophia University in Tokyo. In the summer of 1981, I felt an earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale. As I stood at the train station in Chiba Prefecture, pausing to look around to see if it was appropriate to rush for cover, I witnessed firsthand what the news media has been praising the Japanese people for: discipline, orderliness, relative calm.
The recent devastation in Japan is a grim and frightening reminder of the need for disaster preparedness. For organizations, that means business continuity and disaster recovery plans critical to managing a work force during a disruptive crisis.
The following are a few basic reminders:
Education may be an employers’ most powerful tool in managing the risks associated with a disaster. Ensure that employees have a basic understanding of what they should do in a possible disaster. Here is a tip health authorities have recommended should a nuclear explosion or fallout occur:
During nuclear fallout, stay indoors. If you’re in an office building when a blast occurs, run to an interior room, preferably one without windows. If you’re in a multi-story building, the safest floors will be the middle floors or underground areas. Do not get in your car and leave. Stay indoors for at least four to eight hours until you receive the all-clear from authorities.
Conduct a Benefits Review
Consider conducting a review of information about insurance, leave policies, working from home, issues related to possible income loss, and when not to come to work.
Establish Telework Programs and Policies
If you don’t have a telework program in place, establish one now before disaster strikes. Decide which jobs can be done remotely and give those employees the tools they need to continue operating.
Establish a Phone Tree
Create a single document that lists all employees’ contact information: home and cell phone numbers, emergency contacts, personal email addresses, perhaps a central voice mailbox or social network for employees to inform their employers of their status.
No one ever knows when disaster — whether nuclear, health-related or natural — will strike. Good business practices require that risks be managed to mitigate the effect of any kind of interruption. That is the essence of business continuity planning: Ensuring an organization has contingencies in place that allow it to keep running and quickly (and calmly) recover from a disaster.