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Managing Crisis: How to Minimize the Impact of Emergencies on Work

Thursday, September 23, 2021

National Preparedness Month imageAs you prepare for emergencies at home in honor of National Preparedness Month, it’s also a good idea to consider how emergencies might impact work.

While emergencies may not be avoidable, with careful planning, you can minimize the frustration that emergencies cause you and coworkers. Here are three tips to help you manage the chaos that threatens to exhaust your leave balances and bottleneck work projects.

1. Draft a plan of attack. What would you do if you or a close family member caught COVID-19, got in a bad car wreck or your child’s school closed its doors? Write down a plan to safeguard work now so any negative impact on others at work is reduced later.

Try to think about three possible emergencies and write a plan to reduce the negative impact. Make a habit of reviewing and updating your plan quarterly so you are ready when disaster knocks at your door. Perhaps you need help from family and friends. Be sure to confirm their support now before the emergency call comes. Anticipating “what if scenarios” and working on solutions in advance will lessen any anxiety you might feel in a real emergency.

Focusing on the COVID-19 example, consider who would need to take over any deadline projects during the time you are on leave. Do you have access to work passwords at home, so you can easily share information with others in an emergency? What projects are pressing and can’t wait? It’s important that your files and emails regarding pressing projects are organized in a way that will make it less of a headache for someone else to step into your shoes.

2. Map out your organization system. Prepare a list of paper and electronic file names for your most pressing projects and a path for how to locate them. Having a description of how your filing system works will be invaluable to others. If you don’t already have a system in place, start with alphabetical order.

3. Eliminate surprises. Plan to meet with your supervisor weekly, if possible, to discuss your work projects, priorities for the week and contingency plans.

By taking these steps, being called for jury duty or any other unplanned task won’t cause you mental stress and vital work can continue.

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