Business Planning and Civil Unrest, Part 2

civil unrest

As the title suggests, this is a second in a two-part series, so we recommend reading or reviewing part one before continuing here. In Part 1, we discussed planning and preparation for potential civil unrest. Now in Part 2, we’ll delve into what to do if such an event is imminent or in progress and how to deal with the aftermath.

We’ve discussed how to monitor the news and social media for signs of potential civil unrest. Once you see them and have reason to believe that civil unrest may be just around the corner, it’s time to act. By that, we mean that it’s time to execute your plan, swiftly and with purpose. While the exact nature of your plan will depend on your individual situation, here are some priority items that will generally apply to most businesses:

  • Notify your employees immediately and tell them that you’re activating your company’s remote working plan. Ideally, this will happen on a Friday so that they have the weekend to adjust, but the timing may not be of your choosing. Confirm with each employee that they have heard the news and understand the new plan–you don’t want someone showing up for work in the middle of a riot. Remember that this will likely be a stressful time for your people, so instituting occasional check-ins by management (“Hey, are you ok? Do you need anything?”) is an important step. In difficult times, we need to go out of our way to care for each other.
  • As you activate your communications plan with your employees, do the same with your customers or clients. Try to use multiple avenues–social media, email, direct phone calls where appropriate–to make sure everyone knows what your plan is and how your operations will shift temporarily. Be ready to answer lots of questions for concerned clients and customers; again, it’s an emotional time.
  • Activate your company’s physical security plan. Whether this involves boarding up windows, re-routing or delaying deliveries, evacuating cash and data, or removing vehicles from potential areas of disturbance depends on you, but it should happen as quickly as possible. If you are securing the physical property, take some photos and document that fact for your insurance company.
  • Take command and get things moving again as best you can. Again, this may involve resuming work under your remote working plan, setting up shop in a secondary or satellite location, or just monitoring the situation as best you can. Keep the lines of communication open, stay in touch with your people, and make peace with the fact that this is happening. You’ve done everything you can do, so now it’s time to ride it out.

If the worst comes to pass and such a disturbance comes to your business’s doorstep, property damage whether purposeful or inadvertent becomes a concern. As with any disaster and any emergency plan, you must remember that people are more important than property and that this includes business owners and managers. Don’t put yourself or others at risk trying to “save” the shop. That’s what your emergency plan and insurance are for. Keep yourself and your people safe until the authorities give the all-clear.
Once things have cooled down, you will want to assess the damage. Do so before calling everyone back to working in-office so that you know the extent of the damage and if you can move back to an in-office work plan. If the damage is minimal or nonexistent, you may still want to stay on your remote working plan for a few days so that your employees, clients, and partners all feel better about their safety.

Whatever the level of damage you’ve sustained, it is important to document absolutely everything. Take photos of every portion of your property, with extra attention paid to any damage sustained. Your insurance company will appreciate the information as they perform their assessment of the situation, and you’ll want to contact them immediately to begin the recovery process. Once again, your individual situation will determine what you do next. You may be lucky and able to switch back to normal operations quickly. The worst may have happened and your physical location may be unusable. At that point, you’ll be relying on your remote working plan until you can make other arrangements for a temporary office or storefront.

As with all emergency plans, personal flexibility is a big factor in recovery. You’ll need to apply the same innovative thinking and energy you did when starting your business, but with a little preparation and planning, you’ll have laid the foundation for success regardless of the circumstances that come your way.