Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy: My ‘Aha!’ Moments in the Storm

As our friends, neighbors, and our business continue to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and do all that we can assist recovery, it occurs to me that, in the midst of the devastation and frustration, Hurricane Sandy has given me valuable insights for the future.

Here I share them with you and I invite you to share some of your experiences too.

  • Power is King!

Our society is so dependent on electronic devices that the need to recharge feels like the need to eat.  If there was a choice, I think that some might forgo a meal or two in order to recharge their laptops, phones, or mobile devices.

  • Technology is an Integral Part of Everyday Life

While at one time, only geeks were tech savvy, now a large percentage of the population young and old depends on smart phones, e-mail, texting, and online tools to communicate.

If you had a phone line from the phone company and a wired phone, the loss of power wouldn’t have prevented communication, but who uses that old-fashioned technology anymore?

  • A Strong Team Saves the Day

In the wake of the storm I was truly impressed by the Control Concepts Team.  Despite their own personal struggles (we all live in areas of New Jersey that were impacted by the storm) everyone banded together to do everything possible to reach out to customers and meet needs flexibly and generously.

Our staff gave out their personal emails and maintained contact with our customers from where ever they were trying to piece things together.  Knowing that my team is reliable, ready and willing to do all that they can in the face of adversity gave me the confidence to get through the storm and plan for the future.

  • Social Media Investment Pays Off

The strength of social media for business and personal communication was never as apparent as it was when Hurricane Sandy hit and in the days that followed.  Twitter was an excellent, real time source for updates about everything from power restoration schedules to the availability of gas and the length of lines at stations.  If you have access to your devices for a limited time only you don’t want to have to spend that time searching or waiting for pages to load.  Twitter, and the communities that form there, help you feel connected to resources and support.

The same is true for business.  Twitter and Facebook become tools to reach out to clients in the spaces where they are communicating and seeking information in emergencies and in the days that follow.  And remotely accessible email tools connect you to your customers and colleagues when you are forced to be away from your office.

In circumstances like Hurricane Sandy, it becomes clear that the investment in social media does pay off, not just from a sales or marketing perspective but from a customer service and daily operations perspective.

  • Be Prepared and Have a Backup Plan

I feel like I’m always thinking about “what if” scenarios, but this one got me.  Flashlights, candles, battery radios are one thing, but who would have thought that we would be worrying about running out of gas, not having enough clean clothes, having no way to stay warm, not being able to get coffee?

  • Escape the Routine

The absence of power (I was out for ten days) helped me to take a step back and look my daily routine and re-evaluate what I take for granted and what I can do differently.  Simple things like changing the way you get ready in the morning, what you eat for breakfast, or the route you take to work can lead to more efficiency, less stress, or a more enjoyable experience.

Being forced to do something differently from the way you are used to opens your mind to new ways of thinking and new possibilities.

  • Care and Consideration Lead to Successful Relationships

When faced with adversity, I found that people tend to treat others the way that they would want to be treated resulting in more generosity, less tension, and more patience.

Neighbors sharing their power sources, customers showing understanding about delays in response or delivery, and employees going the extra mile for the company. If we keep this same mentality of generosity and mutual support, we would see more productivity, higher efficiency, less cost, and happier people.

  • Invest in The Cloud; The Value of Virtual Work

After being displaced from our office and disconnected from our network, the value of being able to “go mobile” or work remotely was magnified.  As a result of the storm, I gained a new appreciation for The Cloud and the value that it can provide for a business.  Although power and an internet connection should not be taken for granted, they are all it takes to keep a business like ours running virtually if we are able to leverage the cloud properly.

Since the storm, we have committed to making the switch to The Cloud and plan to do so as a commitment to our customers and an investment in the sustainability of our business.

What lessons did Hurricane Sandy teach you for your business?