This January, the UK experienced a record setting wettest winter month in almost 250 years. Continuing into February there has been yet more extreme weather – in the form of multiple, widespread and persistent storms and serious flooding. With heavy rain allowing little relief to the already overflowing riverbanks and much of the UK suffering under water, it’s plain to see the potential threats to the UK economy and to our businesses.
The daunting truth is that rather than being a once in a lifetime event, extreme weather is known and expected to be a consistent threat to the UK.
According to a global study compiled in December – recently published in the FT before the latest spate of severe weather - the UK is ranked as the number one ‘at risk’ economy from intense storms. Further to this, our economic exposure to flooding is the seventh highest globally and is likely to worsen in the years to come.
Richard Hewston, lead Author of this ranking by Maplecroft, a UK based consultancy that advises companies and investors on managing financial risks also states in the FT article that the UK has “a fairly high inherent risk to these types of natural hazards” and that “predictions for the UK suggest climate change is likely to boost the frequency of major storms and increase risk to economic output as a result of flooding”.
As the arguments continue in relation to what the UK government are/aren’t doing to protect the country against these on-going threats to our homes and businesses, the fact remains that as storms become more regular and intense, the threat of devastation to businesses will increase.
However, regardless of government action, there are things that many businesses can do individually to mitigate against these risks. If the UK is most ‘at risk’ from intense storms, businesses need to carefully consider the unfortunate likelihood of disaster. Disaster recovery planning is a very real and necessary part of a business’s future – now is the time for realisation and preservation.
Fortunately, the UK boasts one of the best digital infrastructures in the world, an infrastructure which spans several cities flawlessly and in milliseconds. For businesses that rely on technology, or that can make better use of technology, this provides a real opportunity to put in place disaster recovery solutions away from primary locations. In the event of a primary location becoming unavailable, the careful planning and implementation of effective disaster recovery and business continuity solutions can be the difference between businesses keeping their heads above the waters, or not.
Beyond the protection of critical IT systems, there are also workspace recovery centres around the country. In every major city, workspace recovery centres provide desks, phones, computers and work-ready facilities all available to accept staff at minimum notice. This allows an immediate transfer of the critical workforce from one place to another, in order for them to seamlessly continue their jobs and keep the business fully operational.
The intricacies of an individual business' disaster recovery or business continuity requirement will always be different, but the premise is consistent. If the systems and workspace in one location can be on standby to operate in another, disaster recovery specialists can create an effective invocation plan in times of need. If the worst case happens, and recent events suggest that it could, then business operations can continue.
Sadly, not all local family businesses can benefit from disaster recovery planning, but if your business can effectively operate for a short period of time from another location, or if your IT can be delivered from a data centre in another area of the country, then provisions can and should be made. In the wake of recent events all companies should heed the warnings and take action. They may not have had a direct effect on your business this time around, but we should all learn from the suffering and loss of those who have been affected by this and prepare ourselves to expect the expected.
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