Hurricane Sandy’s HR Impact

As New York gets to work drying itself off after a harrowing storm, media analysts everywhere are trying to ascertain exactly what Sandy’s impact was on yesterday’s presidential election.

But politics aren’t the only thing that gets affected by inclement weather. Businesses all over the world felt the force of hurricane Sandy, as power outages and dangerous conditions left stock markets closed, employees seeking shelter, friends worried, and emails ignored. Here are the top HR headlines from the storm:

Sandy’s Wrath

Forget the typical Presidential Election and Halloween stories that were expected at the end of October. Instead, the country stood still for two days as an historic hurricane barreled its way up the East Coast of the United States, causing the deaths of over 50 people and an estimated $20 billion dollars in damage. As companies get back to business after this devastating storm, there have been a number of stories on the impact that these unavoidable events have on workplace culture.

Mobile Workforce Weathers the Storm

Flooded Subway Tunnel

Pictured: Cranberry Street Tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan. Flooded subway tunnels mean commuters in New York can expect long delays for the foreseeable future. MTA New York City Transit/Leonard Wiggins

A story published in BusinessWeek suggests that companies with employees who work remotely were better positioned to stay up and running during Hurricane Sandy than more traditional workplaces. The reason? They already have communication contingency plans in place and many already host their servers in the cloud, allowing employees access to company data from anywhere, during even the most severe weather situations. You can read the full article here.

Catalyst for Change?

It’s hard to take a step back and try to learn something from all of this death and destruction. But for businesses Sandy might be the wake-up call needed to develop crisis plans and implement back-up systems that can continue to keep business running during challenging times. Human Resources Executive Online’s Leader Board Blog has some insights you can read here.

The Downside of Flexibility

While the storm highlighted some of the benefits of a flexible work environment, there are also some drawbacks to consider about working from home. According to the Telework Research Network, there are now more than three million people working exclusively from home—up more than 73 percent since 2005. But some of these workers report feelings of alienation from their co-workers. The relationships developed while interacting face-to-face in the office tend be deeper and richer than those developed over email and chat. To read more about the upside and downside of telecommuting, check out this piece.

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