Addressing Emergency Preparedness in a Remote Work Environment 

Written by Dani Robinson-Holland and April Compingbutra

Emergency preparedness is a major topic of National Public Health Week, and an area of importance for Lantana Consulting Group. While individual awareness and planning for local emergencies is vital, organizations must also consider emergency preparedness for both their workforce and operations.  

OSHA defines a workplace emergency as “a situation that threatens workers, customers, or the public; disrupts or shuts down operations; or causes physical or environmental damage. Emergencies may be natural or man-made, and may include hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, wildfires, winter weather, chemical spills or releases, disease outbreaks, releases of biological agents, explosions involving nuclear or radiological sources, and many other hazards.”  

Emergency preparedness plans are essential to onsite workers. These plans may include sheltering in place for storms, and evacuation plans for fires and active shooters, with annual safety trainings for employees. However, what about organizations with remote workers? While numerous companies shifted to remote work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lantana has operated as a fully distributed organization since its inception with employees based in 23 states and several countries. Our extensive experience in remote work has naturally equipped us for emergencies, and we remain receptive to improvements as circumstances evolve. 

Maintaining readiness for emergencies is an ongoing process that requires routine review to ensure policies and procedures remain effective. Key considerations include inventorying items such as laptops, key fobs, and ID badges for protection in case of disaster. Digitizing paperwork is also important. Lantana uses Microsoft SharePoint and other secure cloud-based systems to store essential human resources information and work data. We also recommend that employees have access to mobile hotspots to ensure communication in the event of internet loss. 

Preparing employees for local emergencies involves training and creating emergency preparedness manuals. Training methods can vary from comprehensive sessions provided by the company to self-paced learning through resources like YouTube videos. For instance, this American Red Cross video explains the importance of creating a home emergency preparedness plan and a simplified approach to implement it. Online resources offer customizable manuals and guides to tailor to company needs and establish a blueprint for employee preparedness. 

Maintaining open lines of communication ensures coordination during emergencies, fostering a secure working environment conducive to organizational continuity and employee well-being. Addressing emergency preparedness in remote work environments, such as ours at Lantana Consulting Group, ensures the safety of employees and operational continuity.