During last winter’s freeze, lots of local companies found it difficult to keep doing business because staff weren’t able to get into the office.

Here at Firstlineour services ran as normal and our staff just worked from home. Like most things it required some planning, some time and some kit to implement. We had to create secure access to our servers from our engineers’ homes and a linked home telephone system so that everyone could work as a team, as if they were in the office together.

We were also able to keep our accounts department running so we could send out invoices and keep a firm hand on our cashflow. It’s not the the sort of thing you can necessarily do on the day it snows but our investment paid back handsomely.

If you run a small to medium-sized business and run the risk of loosing trade because the weather stops your staff getting into the office, then it’s really worth thinking about what you can do to keep you business running before it snows again.

So what can you do to keep the business going?

For a few hundred pounds, the technology is available to set up your key staff with a fully functioning home office.

You’ll need to think about telephones, about how to handle incoming calls, and about how how to transfer calls seamlessly between staff as if they were in the office. Then they’ll need access to email, as well as applications and documents that will be on your server.

What about your accounts? Can your accountant/book-keeper send out invoices, chase payments etc to keep the cash flowing? It’s all possible with a little thought and effort in advance. Have I left out anything that your business needs? Let me know in the comments below.

The sorts of technologies that can be used include IP phones, VPN links, RPC over HTTP and Outlook Web Acccess. All jargon, I know, but readily available and starightforward to implement.

Ice and snow might be fun for children and us grown-ups for a day or two but when it puts your business at risk its ‘snow’ fun at all. Particularly when a crisis can be avoided fairly simply.