In the previous article I discussed the vital importance of preparing in advance, effective, realistic and considered plans in order to deal promptly with a crisis or any serious event that would have a major impact on your organisation – rather than waiting until you are already in the eye of the storm!
Should an event be really serious it may trigger the need to evacuate some, or all personnel to an alternative location, so that risks to people are reduced and/or the business can continue to operate safely and effectively.
These decisions should never be taken lightly, but once they are made, they need to be carried out as efficiently and as smoothly as possible. From personal experience, most (good) Crisis Management Plans will outline how a relocation should proceed. Firstly you will need to specify what personnel will be evacuated and where they will go; how they will get there; what they will do when they are there, and what they can take with them if logistics and time allow.
Funding an evacuation needs to be very carefully considered as contingency budgets can soon be depleted when people are operating from hotels and temporary offices, especially if insurance cover has not yet kicked in.
In most cases, this is where many Crisis Management Plans end. Having been physically involved in a number of major events and crises where a relocation has been initiated, I am always surprised by the number of plans that have not even considered when and how to get people BACK after an event!
Once personnel have relocated to a safer and possibly more conducive environment from which they can operate – and the longer they are there, the more difficult it can be to get them back to their original locations, even once it is considered stable enough to return. Every individual has a different perception of risk and what to them would constitute a safe working and living environment. Therein lies the rub!
As relocation costs continue to escalate and business operations become increasingly strained, with key players not able to fully interact, if there is no clear description as to what your organisation considers an appropriate time to return, this could negatively impact the organisation and the morale of your staff.
So having clear parameters as to what your company needs to do post-incident and all the actions you will need to take to declare it safe for people to return, will greatly help in preparing those that were relocated. It will also drastically reduce costs and make this process as short and as pain-free as possible after a time of uncertainty and stress.
While many companies will hopefully never experience evacuation in a time of crisis, those that do will certainly be pleased they thought through every aspect of the process and had the foresight to reduce the impact of what is already a difficult situation on both a business and its people.