Make Your Small Business Snow Day-Proof!

When the list of school, business and church closings starts scrolling across the bottom of your television screen, you know what that means. Tomorrow’s going to be a snow day.
If you’re a large company, you’ve likely got your inclement weather policies in place and will, literally, weather the storm just fine. But small businesses, let’s say ones with 50 or fewer employees, may not have a hard and fast policy when it comes to missing work due to bad weather. If you’re wondering how to keep snow days from shutting you down, read on.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt Employees

If there is no city-wide shutdown or emergency declaration, you may be wondering whether or not you should close. One important thing to consider besides the weather forecast and road conditions is the number of exempt to non-exempt employees you have. To review:
Non-exempt Employees are paid an hourly wage and entitled to overtime pay for any hours worked over 40. If a non-exempt employee stays at home during a snow day and does not work from home, the business is not required to pay them for the day. Business can choose whether or not to pay the employee for a snow day but do not have to.
Exempt Employees are typically salaried and do not have to be paid for overtime work. It is up to a business on how to handle a snow day for exempt employees. If these employees can work from home then they must be paid for a regular workday. If the employee decides to stay home but doesn’t work, and the office doesn’t close or is requesting that the employee works from home, then they can require that employee to take PTO. The business can also choose to grant a company-wide snow day where the company will absorb the losses in costs or productivity.

As always, consult local, state and federal laws.

Refer to or Create an Inclement Weather Policy

If you have a company policy in place, it’s a good idea to review with employees before the weather becomes a problem. If you don’t have a policy. knowing the breakdown of your exempt and non-exempt employees 1s a good place to start. If the roads are impassable, how many employees would be unable to come to work or work from home?
If you have a BYOD policy or provide laptops to your employees, you are a step ahead. Even if your staff works 100% from the office, you can easily set them up to work remotely.
First, let employees know how they will be notified about office closings for inclement weather. You can either set up a text or email to go out to everyone in the morning or you can assess the weather in the evening and let everyone know that you will make the final call in the morning but that they should bring home their laptops as a precaution.
Second, you’ll need to decide how employees will securely connect with the business and access files while working from home.

Provide a Secure Way to Connect

A VPN is one of the most common ways employees gain remote access to their email and files. However, VPNs are an often clunky and confusing way to get employees connected and they a VPN must be set up on a remote desktop server. Additionally, if your employees are using their own devices, they may encounter technical difficulties with the VPN, slowing down your tech teams even more.
One way to resolve the VPN issue is to use a secure, professional file sharing and management service. If your business hasn’t already, it’s a wise idea to have a secure cloud where your files exist.

Download our WebConnect Quick Access Info Sheet
In fact, it’s likely your employees may already be using their own personal cloud accounts to store and access work files at home. This is a bad practice, since consumer cloud accounts aren’t as secure as ones made for business. By providing them a cloud alternative, you can help prevent Shadow IT issues before they become a security incident.
A secure cloud file sharing platform like WebConnect that can be accessed safely through a web browser via an HTTPS connection from anywhere can make it far easier for employees to get to their important files. It doesn’t matter whether an employee is on a laptop, desktop, mobile or tablet – if it has a browser, your employees can get to their files.
Using a platform like this can help temper the expectations of geographically diverse clients who are frustrated that your office is closed down when it’s 80 and sunny where they are. Even while working from home, employees can easily send password-protected links for clients to access files or provide an online portal where clients can upload documents applicable to your business, whether it’s contract or mortgage applications.
If you’re worried about what your employees can and cannot access on a cloud server, you needn’t be. The administrator can decide who has access to what and can track that access and file activity, with date, time, user and IP data. Employees can also set permissions for file access with each one of their clients so that they only see their documents and not another clients’.
A professional cloud service can make the repercussions of shutting down on a snow day disappear. You just have to find the right one. Make sure security is a top priority for IT but also that the platform mirrors the way employees already work. This is essential for widespread adoption.

Use Encrypted Cloud Services that Enable Easy File Sharing

In summary, snow days don’t have to mean the complete shutdown of your business. Make it easy for your employees to work from the comfort of their homes, in their jammies if they choose, on a snowy day by providing them with the equipment and programs they need to connect.
As well, you should have an inclement weather policy and employees should be very clear on what constitutes a paid day and a non-paid day and whether or not they should be working. With these policies in place, the only thing you should have to worry about on a snow day is how to dig out your parking lot.

 

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Originally Published by Jennifer Yeadon at SmartFile.com

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