Pleased to join the CBC News Network Weekend Business Panel on a busy news week, alongside Jeanhy Shim, Gareth Watson, and John Northcott, talking the impact of Hurricane Fiona and changing travel rules. You can watch our segment here.
A few thoughts on our conversation.
Hurricane Fiona has brought significant damage to Atlantic Canada, including Nova Scotia, a place that has been close to my heart for many years. Although the human toll and importance of personal safety are top of mind, our discussion (being the Business Panel) focused on business.
There are many aspects of how disasters and challenges that have the potential to impact business for any period of time can be problematic. Despite technological advances and increases in remote work arrangements, companies of all sizes tend to generate a lot of paper; this is especially the case for small businesses. When disaster strikes, it is a good reminder to think about the ease with which a company could continue to operate, in the event that “the office” could not be accessed for a period of time, is damaged, or worse. Here are a few things for business leaders to think about:
- What information is critical to the company’s operation? Where is it stored (i.e., online, paper, both, etc.)?
- Does the company have online systems that are secure and operating well? Consider areas such as accounting, banking, staffing, payroll, sales, customer service, operations, etc.
- Does the business leader have access to critical information in the event of a disaster? Consider areas such as insurance, banking, financial information to complete claims and support applications, etc.
- Does the company have a communications strategy in place for contacting staff members, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders?
- Does the company have a plan and strategy for continuing to operate, where possible, such as through remote operations or an alternate location?
- Does the company have a list of alternate suppliers, in the event that existing vendors are unable to fulfill their role?
- Does the company review its insurance coverage on at least an annual basis? Business continuity insurance is an area to discuss with qualified insurance advisors, among others.
- What areas of the business still need to be migrated to an online solution? In other words, what is in all of that “paper” anyway, and what are the areas of priority that need to be addressed?
This is an important area and something that will not be resolved in a day or two for most companies. Advisors can help business leaders work through the detail to developing and implementing a plan to resolve this problem.
We also discussed the travel industry, in terms of the impact of rising costs/inflation, the removal of some COVID19 related travel requirements, and airline services from new providers. While rising costs are expected to have an impact on spending in range of areas, some travelers will likely be looking for ways to make their money go further. Tactics could include shorter duration trips, lower cost destinations, or traveling with others to make the most of accommodation dollars. Given that the travel industry has struggled during the pandemic, it will be interesting to see whether the relaxing of restrictions such as masking on planes are an attraction or detraction for travelers, as COVID numbers rise in some areas.
And, finally, here are a few photos of beautiful Nova Scotia; thinking of everyone in Atlantic Canada who has been impacted by Hurricane Fiona and hoping for calmer seas ahead. Thanks for watching.