Load shedding in South Africa is the new “f” word. It’s on everyone’s lips, it’s been all consuming and everyone is moaning. It’s no wonder as it affects all our lives and businesses are no doubt suffering because of it. But we can’t just throw our hands in the air and whine that this is the reason we are going to have a bad week, bad month, bad year. Any good business with a good business plan has a risk management and contingency plan for business continuity.

Load shedding is an external threat to businesses that we have no control over. It’s not going away. So what are you going to do about it? As a business owner, you cannot afford to let load shedding affect your business negatively. You need to find solutions to the problems and take action.

If you haven’t documented your risk management plan, get a torch and start writing it!

Use technology

First prize is a generator that kicks in and allows you to continue as normal. It probably isn’t in the budget, but nor are the losses you will inevitably incur. You need to do the calculation. Can you afford to bite the bullet and invest in a generator? Can you afford not to? Do you stand to lose more in the downtime than you will spend on a generator? A more affordable alternative is a UPS, which we can vouch for – it keeps our computers, printer and internet running for the 4 hours that we are without power. Many businesses operate with laptops which have built in battery packs. Make sure they are always charged when there is power. Have a 3G dongle in the office, so you can connect to wifi and continue to send and receive mails when the internet is down.

Remote work

Load shedding schedules are published ahead of time. If you are not going to have power in the workplace, you and your team can work from home or at a coffee shop.

Renegotiate working hours

Now is a good time to test shift work and flexi hours in your business. If you know power is going off at 4pm, ask your employees to come in a little earlier or skip lunch. Perhaps you’ll need to give a few days’ leave in return for overtime or weekend work. It’s about give and take with your employees. The business leadership, the company’s values and culture will be put to the test over this time when the team needs to pull together and compromise to make it happen.

Powerful meetings need no power

Plan to hold status meetings, brainstorm sessions and other office activities that don’t require power over load shedding time. Use this time to discuss the company values, goals, and do planning. Conduct team building exercises and performance appraisals. Use the down time to work on the business instead of working in it.

Client Communication

If you have appointments with clients at your premises and can’t conduct your business without power, notify your clients ahead of time and either reschedule or plan to meet elsewhere. Allowing your clients to drive all the way to your business for nothing is a sure way to lose a client.

Protect your assets

This is a good time to make sure your most valuable assets are protected, and is the first step in risk management. Make sure your insurance covers any damage that may be caused by power drops. Make sure your data is backed up in the event that your servers crash. Secure your premises and ensure that criminals are not taking advantage of the increased dark hours.

While load shedding is plunging business and the economy into darkness, perhaps this is the light bulb moment that you need to get your risk management in order and ensure that business continuity plans are in place for external influences that will affect your business. Some businesses will buckle, some will survive and some will thrive. If you want to thrive in this time or turmoil, give me a call and let’s take action.

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