Saturday, 28 April 2012

What we are learning from an armed siege

At 11:55am yesterday, I left the Fifth Dimension offices to go and buy a card for a friend’s birthday. It’s not unusual to hear police sirens as you walk down Tottenham Court Road, but it was soon apparent something more serious was kicking off when a second and third wave of emergency vehicles followed in quick succession.

It was soon apparent something more serious was kicking off.

As we now know, it was a siege by a 49 year old, disgruntled man on the 5th floor of Shropshire House above Starbucks. Rumours that he was unhappy with is frothy chocca mocca have been strongly denied.

What the event does highlight is that of business disruption – how to deal with and mitigate the effects of it. 

Working in the West End, we regularly experience disruptions ranging from fire alarms, bomb scares, tube disruption and even riots – some are a personal inconvenience, such as extending the length of the commute, whereas others like yesterday’s siege are more disruptive.

But in contrast to Friday, where our office was out of action for 5 hours, the potential impact of the Olympics this summer is, depending on who you listen to, likely to being considerably more serious. 
TFL could have saved a bunch of money
with a poster saying "Closed for Olympics"

You only need to look at TFL’s interactive tube map of the London Underground which highlights how busy the stations will be. 

Big business is able to commit resource to develop business contingency plans, but what about us smaller SME’s who are hard pressed for time and cash at the best of times?

Most business insurance policies will include “business interruption” but I would be reluctant to rely on this. If you have to wait for cash from the insurers, you may not have a business to return to.

Personally, we have dealt with this matter by chance rather than by design; in considering how to make our business more efficient and enjoyable I have realised that we are better equipped to cope with events that might otherwise interrupt our daily business.

So when yesterday’s evacuation happened, I was relatively unconcerned as the majority of our team could continue working - either they were not in the office, or could return home to carry on. Which of the members were affected? Well it turns out yours truly – because having left prior to the evacuation, my house keys and laptop were still in the office, so was unable to continue my own work from home!

A slight blip  ...but a useful exercise in ironing out a plan that i think will bring both security to the business, as well as a more enjoyable working situation for everyone at Fifth Dimension.

We’ll be publishing a more detailed account of how we are changing our business operations, in a a series of separate blogs over the coming weeks.

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