It has been estimated that up to a third of the UK workforce cannot get to work during the worst of the winter weather and that this can cost the economy up to £473 million. Seeing as we can’t do anything to prevent the snow, it's important to have a contingency for your staff to work from home during those days when it’s just not feasible or safe for them to get in.
We have all by now read the multitude of studies showing how home working can improve productivity and increase moral but having the basics in place when it is a forced situation requires a different type of planning. If your staff member was not planning to work from home they may not have taken the correct equipment from the office and likewise what if a member of staff does not enjoy working alone at home, or cannot be trusted with the lack of supervision?
Planning ahead for these situations will give you and your staff a clear action plan that will help keep your productivity up through-out the bad weather.
Ice and snow reduces high street footfall and deters people from using their cars, which means that customer are less likely to shop. This is one key reason that many businesses are realising the potential of the internet to reach their target customers.
To make sure that you're ready for your customers online, here are a few key things to consider:
If your customers need you for advice or to discuss an issue, are they able to get your contact details easily online?
And is your customer service inbox checked regularly?
Is your website fully working and does it work as well on mobile devices as it does on a desktop or laptop?
Is your online shop stocked and up-to-date?
Even if you're not ready for a website, you could consider social media profiles to keep your customer engaged over Facebook and Twitter - and to offer customer service.
Think about how you can you diversify your products or services to coincide with the weather conditions. Take a high street café: the first snow fall or temperature drop could be a prime time to advertise your ‘winter warming hot chocolate’.
Be creative and adapt to what people are looking for in any particular season. You may sell similar products to your competitors but weather sensitive promotions and communications could give you the edge that could make all the difference.
A business insurance specialist should be able to understand the risks of your business and offer advice on what you need from a policy in order to remain as safe as possible, tailoring the features accordingly.
Calculating your business costs and adequately protecting for ‘business interruption’ is key to making sure you don’t lose out should you cease trading for any reason out of your control. It is important to understand the costs of your stock and how those levels change during different seasons as well as over-heads, payroll and general running costs.
Ask yourself: What would be the cost should the weather adversely affect or halt your business? This will be part of your risk management and business continuity planning on which a good insurer will be able to help you develop.
Alison Wild BCom (Hons), MAAT, MATT, Taxation Technician is a highly respected industry professional who has been working with and advising SMEs in areas including tax, pensions, insurance and marketing for over 25 years. She is a member of the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) and Association of Tax Technicians (ATT) and also has over 20 years' experience as a residential landlord.
Date: January 06, 2023