Extreme weather tests business backup plans

January 7, 2014

Extreme winter weather tested business contingency plans this week, and power outages were a common setback for people trying to work from home.

“It's nice to have this because it tests our systems,” Greg Goelzer, CEO of Goelzer Investment Management, said Tuesday morning.

Like all financial advisers, Goelzer, which managed more than $1 billion for more than 400 clients as of the end of the year, is required to have written business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Anticipating Sunday's snowstorm, Goelzer put office operations staff members in rooms at the Columbia Club on Monument Circle starting Sunday morning, so they would be within a quick walk to the Chase tower offices.

Financial managers and other key personnel worked from home. Goelzer said two staffers lost power, but they kept working because they had home generators.

Others in the area weren't so lucky. A Twitter user with the handle IndyFeminists said, “Several of us working from nearby hotel because power is still out at home. Bosses are pressing to get ppl in asap.”

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard asked businesses to stay closed Tuesday because it was still dangerously cold outside but many planned to open later in the day. In a press conference Monday, Ballard frowned on employers who were reportedly pressuring people to report for work, saying they should rethink threats of firings.

Most companies that closed their offices had professionals working from home. Manuscript editor Paul Levesque said he's not eager to become a full-time telecommuter, though he lives in Crawfordsville and works for John Wiley & Sons Inc. in Fishers. “I like the people I work with,” he said.

Some of Levesque's colleagues had lost power at home, and others found that the company's remote access to servers failed on Monday, but for the most part, he said things were going smoothly with authors and clients around the country. “The vast majority of people don't have a clue we're even closed today,” he said Tuesday morning.

Routing calls to remote locations so that people can work from home, whether as a matter of course or backup plan, is a big selling point of the software sold by Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence.

The Indianapolis-based company's Midwest clients include WellPoint, Finish Line and Forum Credit Union. Chief Marketing Officer Joe Staples said he had not heard whether the storm affected those customers' call-center operations, but he said the software is working well for Interactive Intelligence.

With most of 900 Indiana employees continuing to work from home today, Staples said all they had to do to start taking calls was open a web browser and choose a phone number.


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