An Employee’s Guide to Disaster Recovery Planning

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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, many offices on the East Coast were left in shambles – destroyed by the storm’s high winds, heavy rain, and floodwaters – and a great number of employees were left wondering, “What now?”

October’s record-breaking storm forced a lot of companies to learn the importance of a disaster recovery or business continuity plan…the hard way. A disaster can happen anytime. If your office is damaged by unforeseen circumstances, and you’re forced to work from home for the next six weeks, are you ready?

If your answer is “no,” then now is the time to take action! With some forethought and planning, you can be ready to step in and be part of your company’s response team when a disaster strikes. The following steps will help you create your own customized disaster recovery P.L.A.N.:

Prepare your procedures. There’s immense value in documenting standard office procedures. In an emergency, these become even more valuable because others can step in and help you keep the office running. Plus, they relieve the pressure of having to remember every detail. These websites provide templates to get you started documenting your disaster recovery procedures:

Make sure to keep a printed copy of your office procedures at your desk and at home — so you can access them anywhere.

Lists. Lists are vital in an emergency. You’ll need quick access to lists of information, including:

  • Emergency contacts, including company executives, team members, maintenance crews, and security
  • Key vendors and suppliers
  • Key customers
  • Vital files, paperwork, equipment, and machines you’ll need to work remotely

You can find templates for these and many more at

Ask for information. Ask for a copy of your company’s disaster recovery plan. Read it and, if you have questions, ask them. You may identify gaps that should be addressed. Even if the plan covers all of the major areas, think about what to include for your specific department.

After you’ve created your procedures and lists, ask for help and input from your team. Then make sure everyone knows the procedures exist and make the document easily accessible.

Network with others. Ask those who’ve experienced a disaster what they learned. Leverage your network on social media sites. Ask questions in your existing groups or join groups that provide resources on disaster recovery planning. Partner with others in your company to establish an internal support system and work on your disaster recovery plan together.

Disasters come in all forms and levels of severity, and each one requires a different type of response. It may not be possible to come up with every possible scenario, figuring out what to do in various situations will better prepare you if something happens.

When disasters strike, companies with employees who are prepared have the best chance for long-term survival. You don’t have to be given a directive to develop your own disaster recovery plan or wait for the business continuity team to deliver a copy to your desk. Take the initiative and create something on your own. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to exist!

Julie Perrine is the author of “The Innovative Admin”. Check it out today!

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