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Getting Iced Out: How severe winter weather affects your business
We often find ourselves taking for granted one of the many benefits of working for a cloud aggregator. During the Deep Freeze of 2014, people across the country were affected by one of the coldest Arctic outbreaks of the past two decades. Here in the South, we are dumbfounded when something like that hits, especially when it hits twice in a few weeks. So when the temperatures dropped and the ice, sleet and snow started to fall, we all traveled home and went back to work. Not in the sense that we drove back to the office, but rather that we logged into our home computer and worked—seamlessly, with not much thought until a few neighbors and friends complained about how they were iced out of their workplaces and were not able to do much, if any, work from home. We have it pretty good, from a working standpoint.
As a cloud services provider, we do practice what we preach. Each employee has a hosted work desktop – not just a temporary desktop profile that may or may not look familiar to the user, but their actual desktop they use every day and can access from a variety of devices (PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, etc…). All of their icons, shortcuts, bookmarks, files, etc. are in the same place as they were when they left them—not through a temperamental VPN connection, either. The same goes for our clients that take advantage of this service: Productivity for these clients, mostly SMBs in the professional services industry, is a huge concern as their people are their bread and butter.
A recent study from the Harvard Business School discussed how employees are actually more productive on rainy days than sunny ones because they aren’t distracted by what they could be doing outside – could the same hold true for winter weather? There’s not much data on normal snowfalls, but when looking at the impact of this year’s severe winter weather, we were surprised at the economic impact across the country. According to this article in the Los Angeles Times from February 14th, this year’s severe weather was estimated to cost the US economy $50 billion in lost productivity.
Moving desktops to a virtual, hosted environment certainly won’t eliminate all of the productivity losses lamented across the country, as construction, manufacturing, and other industries require people to be present and able to perform tasks; however, in every business there are certain administrative tasks that must occur, even in severe weather conditions. Enabling employees to continue to work on some, if not all, tasks during adverse circumstances may not solve all of the problems, but it certainly could make a sizable dent—even better if we could plan for these anomalies – and we can, to a certain extent.
How did your business fare during the Deep Freeze of 2014? Did your employees have to take vacation days or were they able to access their workspace remotely?