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Keeping your business productive, whatever the weather

We all love to complain about the weather in Britain, but research recently released with economist group Cebr proves that cold, rainy winters impact far more than just our moods.

In fact, when minimum temperatures are just one degree Celsius lower than average, quarterly GDP drops by £2.5 billion.

This is a bigger negative effect than any other form of adverse weather, including snowfall, heat waves or flooding.

The fall in GDP results from lower output across a number of industries and lost productivity as transport links and staff availability suffer. Even those who do get to work on particularly poor weather days often meet a skeleton staff, hindering productivity.

And the pain isn’t felt equally - the cost associated with extreme weather puts a particular strain on medium-sized companies, which make up 99 per cent of the UK’s 5 million businesses.

Scott Corfe, Head of UK Macroeconomics at Cebr explains why in the report, “Many smaller offices are unprepared for such events as they often lack remote access to their work due to security concerns and a lack of infrastructure. SMEs tend to suffer more than their larger counterparts who can spread the setup and maintenance costs of remote working infrastructure across many more staff.”

Scott’s comments point to cloud technology as a key way to mitigate the impact of bad weather, by allowing employees to easily work from home on days when travelling to work can be dangerous and problematic.

This is supported by the report’s analysis of a sector where cloud computing is already widely used in this way. In the Information and Communication sector nearly two-thirds of businesses use some form of cloud technology, compared to just 15-30 per cent of all other businesses. It’s perhaps no surprise that the report found the ICT sector is the most resilient to adverse weather.

So why are more SMEs not protecting themselves using cloud technology? My view is that, until now, the technical infrastructure to enable remote working and guard against disruption has been out of reach for many companies. But this is changing. At 8x8, we’ve been leading the way in developing cost-effective cloud-based solutions for smaller and mid sized companies.

We’re offering our customers the kind of technology, resilience and service that was once the preserve of the largest enterprises.

We may not be able to change the British weather, but we’re proud to be helping hundreds of businesses be better prepared for it.

Our top tips for staying productive, whatever the weather, are:

1. Make sure you have a business continuity plan in place that covers every eventuality. Whether it’s preparing in case staff can’t get into the office or keeping your IT systems running in a blizzard, it’s important to have a strategy to cope.

2. Once you have a comprehensive plan in place, consider running a test. Unless you trial your business continuity plan, the only way you’ll know if it works is when you put it into action for real, when you won’t be able to iron out any kinks.

3. Put a cloud-based solution in place so that if staff can’t reach the office, they’re able to work from home, in a café, or anywhere with an internet connection. Using cloud technology, you can make sure it’s business as usual as far as your customers are concerned, even if your staff aren’t in the same building.

4. To reassure customers and employees, have communication channels in place to keep in everyone up to date in the case of an extreme weather event. Consider using every channel at your disposal such as social media, text messages, emails to keep everyone in the know.