Business Continuity: Is Your Business Prepared For Winter?


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Many businesses are still reeling from the effects of the past year so an extreme weather event could be the final straw; but there are a number of simple Business Continuity issues you can address now to help your business weather a storm.

Cartoon of man under a rain cloud

All companies spend a great deal of time and money on the traditional risks, such as fire safety; however, with severe flooding and significant gales being almost annual events these days and with the possibility of snow almost anywhere in the UK this time of year, the challenges of business survival become even greater.

Many businesses have already adapted to having staff working from home which adds a welcome level of resilience through the winter; but what about those who can’t work from home? What happens when they can’t get to work or when they have to stay at home because the schools are closed? What about your supply chain? Are you satisfied that they have addressed these and other issues and can maintain the level of service you require in order to maintain your own output?

We have developed a list of considerations that can be used in such circumstances, and could help your company be ready to respond.

Resilient People:

couple riding scooter through a flooded street

  • Hopefully you have already identified your critical people and what the impact would be of them not getting to work, but would a severe weather event increase the risk that anyone in particular cannot make it?

    • Consider the distance they need to travel and how they do it? Do they rely on public transport or travel over small, rural roads?

    • Do they live with, or support, vulnerable people that they may not be able to leave?

    • If bad weather is forecast, do you need to ask people to temporarily move closer to work (hotel or B&B). Is this even possible under lockdown or because of their own circumstances?

  • For those travelling to work, are their vehicles suitable and do they have spare / warm clothing, blankets, sleeping bags, thermos flask etc?

  • If people are travelling for work (not just commuting), have you taken all reasonable steps to ensure their safety?

    • HSE website gives some excellent advice on preparing for winter .

  • Do you have a mechanism for ensuring that everyone is accounted for?

    • Do you know who is staying at home and who isn’t? Has anyone left home but not made it to work?

  • Do you have a cold-weather policy? Do your staff understand your expectations and their role during bad weather?

  • Is there sufficient gritting/snow clearance to keep your paths clear – who will do it and do they understand how and when to do it?

  • Are there sufficient mats or other capability to mop up water that people bring in (a slippery floor sign probably isn’t enough!).

  • Do staff working outside have appropriate clothing for the conditions?

  • Given that Line Managers might also be unavailable, is there a central work number to call in case of a major delay?

  • Does a Department rely on another Department for an activity?  If so, is the other Department still able to deliver it?

  • If there was an emergency during this severe weather period, eg cyber-attack through to burst pipe or chemical leak, can sufficient responders mobilise to the nominated response centre to deal with it? If not, are there alternative options that can be implemented within the required timeframe?

Resilient Premises

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  • Are valuable assets suitably heated/protected?

    • When was your boiler or heating system last serviced?

  • Is suitable protection from frozen pipes in place?

  • Do you have a supply of fuel, especially if you rely on a generator for either primary or back-up power?

  • Is your resupply of raw materials, food, consumables etc sufficiently robust?

  • Have you considered the potential risk from falling icicles/snow from buildings?

  • Are there any areas of “suspicious” brickwork or masonry that might become loose and a risk as a result of the freezing conditions?

  • Have you considered the risk of flooding following a rise in temperature?

  • Do you have a plan in the event of a loss of electricity due to power lines being brought down?

Resilient Technology

  • Most ‘working from home’ capability should be well and truly tested by now but consider whether extreme weather changes anything. IT Help Desks will have become more important but can they work from home too?

Resilient Supply Chain

truck on its side in a storm

  • Are there critical supplies that could be delayed – including mail, water, food?

  • Is there potential for distribution disruption that may impact on your contractual obligations?

  • Grit and salt supplies will be at a premium.  Consider when to re-order so that your stocks are maintained.

  • Could your waste management be disrupted, if so how long before it becomes critical?

Resilient Communications


  • If things do go wrong, do you have a crisis communications plan that can be implemented to inform staff, families, suppliers, clients?

By taking the above points into consideration, your business can be ready to respond to severe weather and disruption can be minimised.

How Inverroy Could Help

At Inverroy, our experienced team can recognise challenges, spot gaps in planning and design essential solutions to help reduce business continuity issues and specifically help your organisation be ready to respond and recover from disruptions. Check out our Business Continuity Planning page for more details.

We have also developed an assessment tool to help you gain assurance that your suppliers are prepared and if not, to provide advice on what else they need to do.

For more information on how your company can prepare for severe weather disruption, please get in touch with us below or via our Contact page.

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