Think the Shutdown Won’t Affect Your Business? It Might

As the negotiations continue at an impasse and the shutdown of many parts of the U.S. Federal government continues, the vast majority of us continue to be unaffected in any aspect of our lives.  But the further the shutdown drags on, the more we’re beginning to see little changes that might continue to build and threaten the progress of our businesses if not resulting in actual business disruption.

shutdown-croppedTo cite a miniscule example, the shutdown first affected me personally when I was asked last week to make the expected annual updates to a set of route maps that I created for a charity bike tour many years ago.  The route is always the same so the updates usually consist of changing the date on the maps which amounts to about five minutes’ worth of work.  But the route director called me frantically on Sunday because the first two break points on the first day of the tour are on the borders of national parks and he’d just discovered that those two break areas – essentially two patches of grass – were closed.  It took them several days to secure new locations and my five minutes of work on the project suddenly turned into two hours against the backdrop of an immediate printing deadline.

Now, however, we’re also seeing much larger impacts to all kinds of businesses. The point is that once again we’re faced with a “never before imagined” impact on commerce and the potential for sporadic, though increasing, business interruptions.  In the last few days I’ve heard from three different people about their plans, whether professional or personal, being significantly impacted by the shutdown:

  • A third-party service provider hamstrung by the temporary but irreplaceable loss of government-provided data
  • A honeymoon considerably redesigned at the last minute
  • The possible cancellation of an entire trade show – regardless of how soon the shutdown ends – due to the loss of government and government-sponsored exhibitor participation

As always, the message is preparedness, both short- and long-term, for events that we can imagine but especially for events that we can’t imagine.  We can plan for power interruptions, tropical storms and devastating fires but we always need to remember and plan for the really ‘creative’ surprises that pop up from time to time.

Sooner than later, unanticipated effects of the shutdown might go from being just something you happen to hear about into larger problems with greater impact.  How might the current situation affect your organization later this week, next week or even farther into the future?  If you’re forced to rearrange how you do business and even consolidate personnel from different locations, hopefully temporarily, the time to think about how best you could do so is . . . always.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.

Reporting From An Evacuation: What It’s Really Like To Be Onsite of a Business Disruption Deployment

In days of yore, one might be a dentist or an attorney or a blacksmith or a plumber.  However, in our ever more specialized business world, many of us often have to explain a little more diligently what it is that we do for a living.  For us it’s no different.  “Wait, you provide what for who and when??”

Karen specializes in managing the deployment logistics for assets in the deepwater Gulf for several years.  She’s an expert in this niche market with multiple deployments and Continuity Housing depends on her for offshore deployment perfection.

Karen specializes in managing the deployment logistics for assets in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico for several years. She’s an expert in this niche market with multiple deployments and Continuity Housing depends on her for offshore deployment perfection.

So we asked Karen Williams of Conference Direct to go in to a little more detail about what a deployment housing expert does.  Karen joined ConferenceDirect in 2007 and prior to that spent more than 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy followed by almost 10 years as the Business Manager/Conference Manager for a national healthcare association.  As with everyone on our team, she has a substantial number of years of experience dealing with the unexpected during deployments.

Continuity Housing: What kinds of events typically trigger a deployment?

Karen Williams: [Most of the] events that typically trigger a deployment [for the clients I work with] are weather-related.  I’ve dealt with tropical storms or hurricanes that pose a threat to assets in the Gulf of Mexico.  An “atypical” trigger would be the large oil spill related to the Deepwater Horizon incident where we were deployed for extended periods over an 18-month period.

CH: What’s the largest deployment you’ve ever managed?

KW: We’ve managed one that encompassed over 45,000 personnel being deployed and in need of housing & concierge services but normal deployments I’ve managed deal with anywhere from 200-225 personnel.

CH: What do your typical duties include, say, with the assets in the deepwater Gulf?

KW: My typical duties are three-fold:  pre-deployment, onsite and post-deployment.

Pre-deployment, wherein I’m in weekly contact with the Asset Managers who would be affected in the case of a weather-related incident which would cause a deployment.  I verify the number of personnel who would require housing, confirm contact information and answer questions they may have.

On-Site for which I’m at the heliport (or whatever point of entry is used) to ensure that personnel know where they will be staying during the duration of the deployment.  I also coordinate rooming lists between the Asset Manager and the various hotels, serve as a single point-of-contact for all communications to the hotels, mediate any concerns between the deployed personnel and the hotels and monitor that the rooming lists are being adhered to and that the personnel are actually staying in the hotels they were assigned.  I meet with each of the hotel managers.  Once personnel start returning to their assigned assets, I ensure that they’ve properly checked out of their assigned hotels and that the hotels have an accurate room-night count.

Post-deployment when I follow up with each Asset Manager to make sure their needs were met and gather any feedback they may have.  I also gather all information needed to prepare the invoicing for the hotels.

CH: What do your atypical duties include?

KW: Anything you can imagine, from breaking up fights at 2am in one of the hotels because someone decided they didn’t want to share a room and started swearing at the front desk clerk, to politely letting someone know why we aren’t authorized to provide housing for his wife & kids at the client’s expense.

CH: How much sleep do you actually get when you’re deployed?

KW: Seeing how my phone usually starts ringing at 5am and most times doesn’t stop until about 11pm during a deployment, I typically sleep about 4-5 hours a night.

CH: What’s involved in the preparation for a deployment?

KW: Once I’ve been given the green light to deploy, I first call all the Asset Managers, get their exact rooming requirements and let them know that we have their hotels ready for them.  I email each one a customized rooming list which outlines their hotel assignment and the exact number of room types they are allowed (doubles and/or kings).  They complete the list, return it to me and I email to the appropriate hotel.  I grab my bag (always packed & ready), make flight reservations or gas up my car to drive, and am on my way to the deployment site.

Weather-related deployments usually have about a 24-48 hour notice prior to the time I have to be onsite.  I track the weather right along with the client’s trackers just so I can keep a step ahead.

CH: What’s your favorite city and why, relevant to ease of amenities for clients?

KW: So far, my favorite city based on ease of amenities for clients is New Orleans.  Everything is in walking distance for personnel who had been evacuated.  Second favorite city would be Houma, LA.  Even though it’s a much smaller area, most of the hotels we used were in one central location, had in-house dining options, ample room amenities and were very easy to deal with.  Local dining options were not hard to find.

CH: What’s the oddest situation you’ve ever had to encounter?

KW: The oddest situation I had to deal with was an individual who didn’t feel he had to share a room (which was required by the client).  He decided to argue with the front desk clerk at his assigned hotel, cuss at her very loudly and repeatedly and even tried to jump over the counter to approach her.  His supervisor and I had to intervene and eventually he left the hotel to provide for his own accommodations.

CH: What’s the ‘real’ value of the service you provide?

KW: It’s two-fold.  Most importantly, I provide a peace-of-mind transition for personnel who are being evacuated under a stressful situation.  They know that they’re going to be taken care of, have a roof over their heads and they don’t have to lift a finger.  But I also provide a one-stop shop for the hotels so they can streamline their check-in process for the evacuees and also have a streamlined invoicing process after the evacuees check-out.

williams-pullCH: What’s the longest deployment you’ve ever managed?

KW: The longest deployment I’ve even been involved in managing was the response to the Deepwater Horizon incident.  The housing & concierge services portion of this deployment lasted 18 months and I spent a total of 3,500 hours over the course of 315 days onsite.  The longest deployment separate from that has been 7 days onsite.

CH: What’s the most interesting or challenging part of your profession?

KW: I love working with all different kinds of people and being able to make their jobs and their lives easier and less stressful.  Anything I can do to help has always been my way of life.

CH: What’s the most critical personal asset that you personally use in managing a successful deployment?

KW: Maintaining a calm, organized, level demeanor at all times is the most critical asset I use during every deployment.  [Although I spent almost 10 years managing conference for a national healthcare association,] I didn’t have any prior hotel or hospitality training before joining the Continuity Housing Team.  I would say my 20+ years in the military has best prepared me for handling my concierge logistics duties.

CH: Have you ever had to cancel a personal event in order to meet a deployment requirement?

KW: During the incident in the Gulf, I did miss some birthdays and holidays; everyone who was a part of that experience did all we could to help out.  For the weather-related deployments, I’ve only had to reschedule one personal event.  I have a very understanding family!

***

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.

The Sandy Boardwalk Fire and Long-Term Thinking After A Substantial Impact

News late last week that the devastating New Jersey Boardwalk fire was caused by damage to electrical wiring as the result of Sandy sent a special kind of groan through the souls of business continuity professionals everywhere.  The idea that something so terrible could have been caused so long after the initial event is only eclipsed by the original nightmare of destruction left behind by the storm.  But even more chilling is the realization that the fire might have been prevented if a standard or more thorough review had been instituted during the post-storm repair and reconstruction process.

Photo: ABC

Photo: ABC

I’m not pointing fingers nor am I playing a cold game of what-if.  We can’t predict the future and events such as the fire clearly illustrate that not every plan is perfect.  What we can do is utilize our knowledge of what happened to remind ourselves that absolute vigilance is paramount.

Just over two years ago I posted about the secondary damage wrought by the drought of 2011.  The drought is still bad in many areas of the Southwest U.S. and Plains states but the worst of the experience, the heat and the utter lack of rainfall, happened that year and it was ugly.  The immediate results were plainly and painfully evident but one of the longer-term, ‘surprise’ remnants has been the continuing devastation to large dead or still-dying trees, some of which bear some very large limbs.  Hurricanes can cause long-term damage like that but drought-stricken trees are insidious in that they take their time to fall apart and do damage, even now almost two years later.

Whether it’s from a hurricane or an earthquake or an act of terrorism, whenever there’s a severe enough impact to our environment that there’s a business failure (or worse), there’s the preparation – sometimes robust, other times not so much – the onset of the calamity which may or not be foreseen, the event itself, the response, the recovery . . . and then the review afterwards that hopefully yields a better plan for the next time.  What matters most, always, is how thorough that review is and what new elements can be brought in to make it even better.  Unfortunately, all too often the review, if it’s conducted at all, is a rote series of pronouncements that, “Yeah, we should probably do that part better next time.”

sophie_and_franzWe’ve all heard and read anecdotes about “accidents of history” that yielded onerous or marvelous results.  I heard for the first time a few weeks ago that the setup for the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo just shy of 100 years ago was the result of their driver turning down the wrong street.  Which is not to say that World War One wouldn’t have started if he’d stuck to the correct route.  But it reminds us that we have to think not only about what happens after a disaster but what might happen way after one strikes.


Video Posted for “Establishing a Fail-Over Site: Perfecting the Equation of Where to Work AND Where to Sleep”

Click to play.

Click to play.

On Wednesday we hosted a webinar with Steven O’Neal of Rentsys Recovery Services wherein we followed one corporation’s successful fail-over from their headquarters in Houston to their fully functioning recovery site in Dallas. We showed how more than 50 of the company’s employees are able to easily and quickly deploy and benefit from the pre-assembly of several key requirements so that they’re able to keep the company operational despite a category 3 hurricane making landfall near Houston.

The presentation was an “assembled hypothetical” based on the experiences of several different deployments but we also shared a real case study of another company that did it the wrong way and suffered greatly as a result.

And the presentation was a hit.  We posted it on YouTube if you’d like to watch.  It’s almost an hour (!) but it’s a lot of very good information.  Take a look, enjoy and learn.

Webinar Reminder: Establishing a Fail-Over Site – Perfecting the Equation of Where to Work AND Where to Sleep

Don’t forget to register for our 40-minute webinar, this Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 10:30 AM Central.  This will be an informative and fast-paced webinar wherein we follow one corporation’s successful fail-over from their headquarters in Houston to their fully functioning recovery site in Dallas. We’ll show how more than 50 of the company’s employees are able to easily and quickly deploy and benefit from the pre-assembly of the following requirements so that they’re able to keep the company operational despite a category 3 hurricane making landfall near Houston:

• Fully-functioning, comfortable working facilities using existing owned or leased ‘skeleton’ infrastructure
• Secure data access to your company network
• Ample parking
• Backup on-demand generator (not pre-installed permanent generator(s) requiring day-to-day maintenance)
• Fully functional mobile backup facilities at the fail-over site for expanded user workspace or additional data center infrastructure capacity
• Single-call activation of a team of hotel experts to manage all housing related issues during a deployment
• Pre-negotiated housing facilities at pre-inspected and approved hotels
• Guaranteed room nights for all employees
• Pre-established hotel rates
• Managed billing for all hotel expenses
• Exclusive logistical support staff to help with any on-site hotel needs

register-button This webinar will be presented by Steven O’Neal of Rentsys Recovery Services and Michelle Lowther of Continuity Housing, both of whom are long-time veterans of successful, durable corporate disaster recovery management.

Even if you’re unable to attend, we encourage you to register so that you receive a link to the recorded version after the presentation. This webinar is free to attend and you can share this invitation with anyone you’d like to. We’ll see you on the 18th!

Register here:

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5956251653072421888

The Tropics Are Quiet But Plenty to Keep an Eye On During September Preparedness Month

As Preparedness Month gets under way, the central U.S. continues to be mired under high pressure, high temps and occasional rain but our hearts go out to those suffering from both flooding and fire threats in the western states and the historic flooding occurring throughout the South and along the East Coast.  Despite a relatively quiet summer throughout the Plains States and along the Gulf Coast, there’s no shortage of reminders why we should all continue to keep our preparedness plans as robust as possible.

readyIf you’re reading this, you’re already familiar with National Preparedness Month and Ready.gov which were initiated by the federal government in the wake of the attacks on 9/11 – also the reason that the month of September was chosen for the annual campaign – as a vehicle for educating Americans, particularly families,  not only about the importance of preparedness but where and how they can best learn to prepare for any type of disaster.  While the program has been successful in raising citizen awareness and education levels across the country, the greater expansion in preparedness knowledge over the last decade has evolved in the business community.  There have never been fewer excuses for any professional organization not to be prepared in the event of any type of business disruption, regardless of the cause.

In the spirit of the campaign, we’ve decided to focus our monthly educational webinar on the macro approach to perfecting the deployment plan of any organization that might ever need to temporarily relocate their critical personnel, whether that personnel is IT staff, administrative, executive level or any combination thereof.  (You can register here.)  The macro aspect refers to the fact that many organizations diligently plan for how and where to deploy their employees to work during the day but too often the arrangements for where people will stay at night (or whenever they’re off shift) are left for the last minute – i.e., waiting until the worst possible time to make sure your most important personnel will be well rested on an ongoing basis when you need them the very most.

register-buttonThe 40-minute webinar – “Establishing a Fail-Over Site: Perfecting the Equation of Where to Work AND Where to Sleep” – will be at 10:30 Central on Wednesday, September 18th.  It’s free to attend and you can forward the link to whoever you’d like.  Sign up now.  September’s the month to focus even more on preparedness; take advantage of this opportunity.

30 Years Since Hurricane Alicia, 5 Years Since Ike . . . And A World Of Difference in Preparedness Evolution In Between

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the landfall of hurricane Alicia, a storm which formed so quickly that it caught even experienced Gulf Coast storm veterans off guard.  In less than three days, a small cluster of thunderstorms left over from an early season cool front formed off the southwest coast of Louisiana and proceeded to grow out of control and slam into the Galveston area as a category three hurricane.  The storm was ‘only’ a category one when it hit Houston 45 miles inland and yet it caused an estimated $2.6 billion in damage and claimed 21 lives.  (For a look at how the rest of the current season is expected to shake out, take advantage of our free webinar on August 21st.)

Fast-forward to Ike 25 years later.  In one way, Ike was a much more courteous storm as it formed far out in the Atlantic therefore giving those of us on the upper Texas Gulf Coast a lot more notice.  Unfortunately it was a particularly destructive storm, the third costliest in U.S. history and responsible for nearly $38 billion in damages and nearly 200 direct and indirect fatalities.

Cost in dollars and lives wasn’t the only difference between the storms.  Three distinctions stand out:

  • Length of time of average power outage (3 to 5 days after Alicia compared to nearly 20 days in some cases after Ike)
  • A substantial increase in population, meaning more people and more buildings, in the impacted area from 1983 to 2008 which significantly increased the cost in damages by Ike; and
  • The considerable evolution of the disaster preparedness and business continuity industries in the interim between the two storms

I was 17 when Alicia hit and what personally impacted me the most was the loss of electricity and more specifically having to live without air-conditioning in Houston in August.  We assumed the power would go out but we also assumed it would come back on in a day or two, which it did.  Overall, for most of us, the storm and its after-effects came and went in a week or 10 days and that was it.  It did as we expected a hurricane would but not because we were particularly smart or prepared.  No, we were lucky.

I simply can’t imagine what would have happened if Ike, largely a strong wind and surge event, had impacted the Houston-Galveston area 30 years ago.  Focusing only on the issue of power outages, a two-week outage in 1983 would have resulted in hundreds if not thousands of businesses going out of business.  Forever.

So how did so many companies fare so much better after the much more brutal assault by Ike, even though the population in 1983-BCthe area had grown so much?  Business continuity planning and disaster preparedness, plain and simple.

In 1983, “business continuity planning” didn’t even exist as a mindset much less as an industry designed to increase the chance of a company surviving a storm . . . and “preparedness” was pretty much limited to letting your employees leave a little early the day before landfall.

Most wise organizations now benefit from a pre-planned and timeline-oriented preparedness plan with multiple redundancies built in for unexpected contingencies.  Employees are cross-trained and are better prepared  with as much knowledge as possible and companies do more than ever to make sure that their employees have taken care of their own families’ needs ahead of time.  There’s a Plan B and a Plan C.  Some companies even have a Plan L.  Elements like IT backup, food, generators and travel are planned for well ahead of time.  And the very smartest companies also make sure that if they have to deploy, their employees have a guaranteed place to stay.

I went without power (or air conditioning!) for 17 nights after Ike.  But the company I worked for never missed a beat.  A little different than if Ike had hit in ’83.

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.

20-Minute Tropical Season Update and Forecast Webinar on August 21st

Consensus among the majority of Atlantic tropical weather experts earlier this year was that this was going to be an unusually active hurricane season but so far that hasn’t been the case.  In fact, last week two of the best known tropical forecasters slightly revised the outlook downward.

register-buttonWhat many don’t take into consideration is that although hurricane ‘season’ runs from June 1st until the end of November, we are just now entering the beginning of the busier part of the season and we typically don’t see the peak of activity until mid-September – a full 5 weeks away.  Considering that a tropical storm can develop and make landfall in as little as 48 to 72 hours, now is not the time to dismiss the 2013 season as a blowout.

Chris Hebert

Chris Hebert

Meteorologist Chris Hebert is the TropicsWatch Manager and lead hurricane forecaster at ImpactWeather, a private weather services company that provides corporations around the world with customized, business-specific weather forecasts.  Chris has been professionally forecasting hurricanes for 33 years – although he actually started plotting storms at the age of 7 (Hilda, 1964) – and he has a well-deserved reputation for accuracy relevant to both storm strength development and landfall location and timing.  He’ll present a 15-minute outlook at 10:30 Central on Wednesday, August 21st with a brief Q&A afterwards.

It’s been a ‘dull’ season so far but right now is quite literally the worst possible time to let your guard down.  History and personal experience teach us that most of the more serious storms develop and come ashore during late August and in September.  Remember Andrew, Hugo, Frances, Ivan, Katrina, Rita or Ike?  Join us on the 21st for a free and concise yet information-packed recap and forecast and stay as informed and prepared as possible.

“The Plan Went to Hell as Soon as The Eye Wall Crossed the Seawall.” Not Sticking to Your BC/DR Plan When You Need It Most

The seawall quote is one I heard when an associate of mine was talking about what happened when Ike made landfall just east of Galveston almost five years ago, sort of a BC riff on the best laid plans of mice and men.  His company had tweaked their BC plan for far longer than most companies even knew what a business continuity plan was.  They zealously practiced, they innovated, they researched and each year they did it all over again.

But their plan – every plan – is created with a specific set of alternative behaviors in mind. Each trigger point is supposed to be the result of A, B or C happening which in turn generates a pre-decided, often pre-negotiated reaction. Predeterminism is a continuity planner’s favorite tune until fate intervenes and instead of A, B or C you get . . . well, π.

As it became more apparent on the Friday night before Ike’s landfall that the storm was edging closer to Galveston, my friend’s company – with operations in Galveston, Texas City and along the Houston Ship Channel – decided to change a key element of their plan in regard to who should be deployed for fail-over, when they should go and where they should go.  They had a plan, but they reacted based on emotion and the behavior of others.  And they changed some of the most important elements of their plan at perhaps the worst possible time.

Ike near the Lesser Antilles, 07 September 2008. Photo: NASA

Ike near the Lesser Antilles, 07 September 2008. Photo: NASA

And everything worked out just fine.  At least for that particular set of changes for that particular storm and while that’s not a unique outcome, had the decision to change the plan been made during the ramp-up to another storm, the outcome may have been different and far worse.

Take for example the difference between the post-landfall scenario of Ike, which didn’t occur just after Katrina, versus the unimaginable public response in the build-up to Rita which itself was precipitated so very much by the devastation wrought by Katrina a month earlier.  (Researchers estimate that the pre-Rita evacuation of the Texas Gulf Coast was the largest single migration of a group of people in U.S. history.*)  Two different storms, same approximate strength, same general area.  Yet two entirely different outcomes.  Changing their deployment plan worked during Ike but if they had decided to do the same thing during Rita, they’d have been screwed.

If the company had decided to deploy their key staff in the Rita scenario – and there are many examples of tragedies that occurred during the Rita evacuation – those people wouldn’t have been where they needed to be for another 12 to 24 hours after they left.  And when they arrived . . . if they arrived . . . they’d be extremely tired, very hungry and in desperate need of a shower.  In other words, they’d probably be a tiny bit moody and not at peak performance when they were needed the very most, which of course defeats the purpose of having gone in the first place.

It’s only because this company knew exactly how and when to adapt their plan, i.e., what they did during Ike, that they were able to avoid repeating the mistakes that so many other companies made relevant to Rita.

Adaptation is necessary for any response but discuss with your team early and often (and then yet again) what might happen if important elements of your plan are modified midstream.  Color code your plan so that you know – or at least plan for as much as possible – which elements are written in stone and which are a little fuzzier around the edges.  Don’t just expect the unexpected, expect yourself and your team to act in an unexpected manner.

Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.

* Section c, page 8:  Richard D. Knabb, Daniel P. Brown, and Jamie R. Rhome (March 17, 2006). “Hurricane Rita Tropical Cyclone Report” (PDF). National Hurricane Center.

Disasters Are The New Normal? No, But The 24-Hour News Cycle Is (P.S. – Be Prepared Anyway)

Last week a friend of mine sent me a link to an article that he knew I’d enjoy, and by ‘enjoy’ I mean he knew it would bug me.  Over the last few years but especially over the last few months, articles and news stories have appeared proclaiming how much worse everything is getting, not just with political adversity but with devastating weather, monstrous wildfires and tragedies overall.

Baloney.

Having worked in marketing, the media overall and in a variety of contingency and prevention professions over the last 25 years, I’ve made a hobby out of watching how the news is presented, how it’s grown as an industry, how the different sources compete with each other and what gets covered . . . and how often, usually over and over and over again.  News, both good and bad, has been happening for millennia and the only thing that’s changed is the fact that we now have not only a 24-hour news cycle – and a few hundred million people carrying video cameras around in their pockets – but a 24-hour news cycle that’s occupied by hundreds of different news outlets.

opposite-ends

Opposite ends of the same wide spectrum we inhabit.

A perfect example of how much things have changed is how the weather is covered.  I’m probably dating myself but many of us remember when information about an approaching hurricane was relegated only to the actual weather segment of a broadcast.   Updates would be issued and there might be a suggestion or two about filling your car’s gas tank and picking up a few extra cans of tuna.  Now when we have the slightest possibility of a tropical system that might impact a 50- or 100-mile section of coastline more than a week from now, it’s breaking news.  Cue the ominous soundtrack and flashing graphics.  Over and over and over again.

Another example is Tunguska and the fact that news of that truly earthshaking event took weeks and months to travel to the rest of the planet.  The amount of data that now flies across the internet, airwaves and via satellite is mind-boggling and a huge amount of it is entertainment disguised as news. Shocking, devastating news played over and . . . well, you get it.

If anything, a lot of things are getting a lot better.  Just last  week, U.S. researchers announced that they’d discovered a way to turn off the chromosome defect which causes Down syndrome.  Not to mention relatively recent debuts of the smartphone (when’s the last time you used a paper map?), hand sanitizer stations every 10 feet and the cronut.  All pretty good stuff.

Maintaining some perspective will help you lead a happier life, not to mention help you be more productive and sensible professionally.  After all, the constant barrage of bad news leads to burnout, apathy and reverse Chicken Little syndrome.  When the sky’s always falling (but it’s not), complacency becomes entrenched.  There will indeed be genuine tragedies, devastating occurrences and business interruptions in the future.  Unfortunately, you and/or your organization might be affected.  Check your plans, recheck them, fortify them and make them as robust as possible with new service solutions, new technology and new systems.  For most of us, right now is down time.  Use it wisely.

Continuity Housing helps companies with their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.