smb-tech-trendsIt’s pretty common to talk about the weather these when the country is experiencing such extreme conditions. Since we have no control over Mother Nature, it makes good sense to take measures to ensure your small business productivity doesn’t take a hit when it’s either too cold or too stormy.

For starters, in “How to Prepare Your Office for Bad Weather,” Inc. suggests that you clarify in your employee handbook what you expect your team to do in the event of various weather conditions. Inc. advises that your small business inclement weather policy should make it clear who is responsible for announcing the office is shutting down and include other protocols for bad weather days, such as who lets customers know your business is closed.

About pay for days the office is closed, that too should be spelled out clearly so there’s no misunderstanding. Inc. points out that under federal law, an employer can make any rules they want for non-exempt employees. Regarding exempt employees, there are two rules and they are subject to state laws. One rule says that if exempt employees work any part of the day, they earn a full day’s pay. Part two of the rule says that if you choose to close the office, the employee also must be paid. You’ll probably want to check with your state labor department to see what requirements they have.

Keep communication up when you’re shut down

Just because the office is closed, you don’t need to shut down operations. With today’s technology, you and your team easily can communicate with each other and customers remotely.

Cloud computing: By taking your company data to the cloud, it doesn’t matter where you small business team is. You’ll still be able to access information and collaborate to create new documents, plus you’ll always have the latest versions right at your fingertips. Also moving your email from on premise to the cloud means it always will be accessible.

Video and web conferencing: Even when days are bright and sunny, team members may be working remotely or SMB_BigTrends_Video_Conf_WEB_Page_1on travel. No longer does it mean that they can’t meet face to face, however. With today’s conferencing capabilities available for desktops and laptops, as well as tablets and smartphones, your team can get together on a video conference, and even include your customers, to brainstorm, resolve a problem or get a project update. Using web conferencing and screen sharing, your team can review and discuss documents together while they communicate via audio. You’ll want to use headsets for the best audio clarity whatever your conferencing needs.

Unified Communications: Today’s unified communications (UC) systems make it convenient for your team to remain connected wherever they are. UC solutions integrate all your different modes of communication – phone, fax, instant messaging, text message, email as well as conferencing features — into one convenient interface. Your team won’t have to check separate interfaces to place a call, retrieve email or send an instant message. And with enhanced phone features like call forwarding, voice to text messaging and even find me/follow me, which routes calls to different phones until the recipient picks up or the caller decides to leave a message, you’ll never miss a customer call.

Now you can ‘let it snow’ and know your business will continue running. You’ll still have to dig out your car to get to the store, though.