SMEs claim continuity triumph over winter conditions

Businesses of all sizes expected to suffer during the recent treacherous weather conditions that gripped the UK, but new statistics suggest that a majority of SMEs felt that they were more than adequately prepared to deal with the harsh climate.

A survey carried out by YouGov on behalf of Citrix GoToMyPC found that 78 per cent of small businesses believe that they were able to tackle the poor weather conditions effectively. This is perhaps partially contradicted by the fact that 58 per cent of respondents also said that their businesses had been negatively impacted by the snow and ice.

500 small business leaders were questioned for the report and it emerged that a quarter of them had set up systems that allowed staff to work from home. 10 per cent also indicated that they had been able to work around travel difficulties by holding voice or video conference calls online.

Despite the positive outlook of many small business leaders, 42 per cent admitted that they did not have any form of business continuity plan in place to protect against future disruption.

Over half of all respondents said that the weather had either made staff late arriving to work, or in the worst cases prevented them from completing their journey at all. The problems went beyond staff absences, with 21 per cent suffering as supply chains were broken and key contacts were made unavailable.

Experts have estimated that nearly 125 million hours of work were lost as a result of the weather conditions during the first weeks of January, which equates to around 1.35 billion in losses.

Business continuity expert Andrew Millard said that it was important for small business owners to communicate with staff and explain the course of action to take if they were unable to make it in to work. He also said that providing remote access for home working was an excellent way of maintaining productivity.

Mr Millard continued by saying that businesses would need to consider their customers and staying in touch with clients was important whatever the weather. SMEs could benefit from delegating the coordination of business continuity planning to a member of staff who can react appropriately and according to plan when necessary.

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