I’m going to assume we were all equally as guilty of slinking away from our desks multiple times to watch the eclipse, which is fine, because the eclipse is rare and exciting! However, from a business standpoint, the eclipse viewing put a damper on productivity and has caused an increase in reduced workforce. As you can imagine, many people took a day or two off to either travel to its path or just to view it from home. Many schools were closed for the eclipse, leaving parents to have to figure out childcare for that day, resulting in parents having to take the day off who might not normally. With that being said, it was estimated that the eclipse would cost businesses roughly $700 million due to unproductivity. While there have been a couple articles discuss the reasons why that isn’t completely accurate, I would like to remind you that even summertime causes reduced workforce and lack of productivity, which costs companies, so it’s no surprise that the eclipse, (which happens only once every few decades) would also cost companies.
How can the Eclipse Cause so Much Productivity Loss?
I’m not going to say everyone was hyped up for the eclipse, but I will say that all throughout the day in my office building, people were going outside to check the progress and many of my coworkers were googling it throughout the day to see what it looked like in other parts of the country. When it was time for the eclipse peak, the whole building was waiting outside for at least 20 minutes to watch it in the final phases. In fact, the large majority of my Facebook feed was people at work doing the exact same thing that I was. After the eclipse it seemed like people weren’t overly eager to return to work, either. With it being reported that 98% of organizations saying that a single hour of downtime costs around $100,000, you can imagine how the eclipse has impacted businesses.
For some of those who traveled to see the eclipse, expecting to just pop back home after it was over were in for quite the surprise when they discovered up to 10 hour delays on the interstates. Due to driving all night, some were unable to make it back into work the following morning.
Preparing for Similar Instances
Preparing for instances like the eclipse is actually a lot easier than you might think. By making a few changes you’ll be able to ensure your business continues running smoothly. Here are a few ways to prepare for similar instances:
- Implement a work-from-home policy if too many people have requested off for the same days to ensure that some work is still getting done.
- Cross-train employees so that those who are in the office can make sure what needs to get done, does.
- Ensure you have back-ups for your crisis team managers, for in the event they are out and an emergency or disruption occurs.
- Encourage employees to use lunch breaks to catch up on events rather than let it distract them during the workday.
To help employees and leadership plan around a reduced workforce, download the Preparis ”Reduced Workforce Tabletop” exercise in your portal.
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