By Marcus Leach

The wheels of UK industry and commerce literally grind to a halt during bad weather, and as we all know — it’s an unpaid holiday businesses can ill-afford, especially at the moment.

Last year’s big freeze cost UK businesses almost £1 billion a day in its peak, but there are simple things you can do to help protect yourself from the worst of it, says the UK’s leading office supplies company.

“Businesses cannot afford to ignore the prospect that there could be bad weather ahead. Last year the blizzards and deep snow that swept the country caused chaos — and brought UK industry to its knees," Sarah Haythornthwaite, marketing director at Staples UK said.

“It doesn’t have to be like that. Some simple planning could help minimise the damage to your business and help keep revenue on an even keel.”

Staples has put together some tips to make it easy for businesses to prevent being caught out this year:

· Travel plans. Encourage staff to plan alternative routes to work, in the event that their usual route is disrupted.

· Order in extra stock. Make sure work doesn’t grind to a halt because you ran out of paper! Get ink and paper orders in early and have them delivered in case of snowy, chaotic days.

· Have a back-up plan. Think about how you can best serve your customers and stake holders if your business is disrupted — even if it’s just a ‘Please come back’ voucher.

· Think IT. Get technology up-to-scratch so staff can access emails at home.

· Advance warning. We know, it’s hard, but any early warning just makes life easier doesn’t it?

· Key contacts. Gather a list of emergency services you may need in case there’s a technical problem you can’t fix. Include plumbers, electricians and insurance companies, print the list and let key staff have it too.

· Clear the path. Keep paths and entrances clear. It’s important for health and safety reasons, but it also makes a good impression. Get some warning signs printed up in advance at your local Copy & Print Centre. Inspect paths to ensure they are safe during the course of the day and buy bulk packs of salt in case of ice.

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