Extreme weather tests business backup plans

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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.


  • Salt works, but only if it actually gets applied
    Yes, salt doesn't work as well in very cold temperatures. But do we not realize that the temperature of the road surface is much warmer than the air temperature due to the friction of warm tires passing over it frequently? Stop making excuses for a woeful response to this storm.
  • Plow
    I don't care about the salt, plow the damn roads. Three days after the storm and many major roads are in awful shape. There was very little traffic on Monday or Tuesday. What was DPW doing?
  • Wow
    Bosses like Tom and Mike make me glad there is still some vestige of unions. They're human beings, guys.
  • How Salt Works
    I'm a bit tired of people blaming the city and pointing fingers at the road clearing crews using the phrase "where's the salt?" Here's a bit of information so you can stop being ignorant. Salt on roadways is only effective to around 20°F at which temperature it will take approximately 20 minutes to begin to melt ice. At 10°F or below it is useless as a melting agent. With temperatures the last 48 hours staying well below 0°F there is no way to melt the ice with salt. Today should see a marked improvement in the roadways as temperatures are supposed to rise to 25+°F. Source: US Road Management Journal December 1, 1997.
  • Salt the roads, Mayor.
    Shutting the City down for two days after the snow was done is ridiculous. The fact is that many, many hourly workers are going to have a hard time paying bills because they've lost two days of wages that aren't going to be paid to them by most corporations. I've never heard of an American city shutting down bus service for two full days because of snow and cold. Where's the salt for the roads? All the roads are frozen ruts of packed snow/ice, and there's no salt to be seen anywhere. Actually, I noted one spot on Saturday where a truck must have accidentally dropped some salt and now a half-block of that the street has bare pavement while there's no bare pavement to be seen anywhere else in the city. Where do we have to go make a donation for the City to buy some salt?
  • Insensitive
    Tom- No, you're right. You are insensitive. But paying them for these days when an act of God has basically kept your business closed makes you a better boss than Mike. Mike-With temps in the negative double digits for two days, NOBODY should be waiting at a bus stop. That is serious risk to health that nobody should be put into a position to make a choice on.
  • Get it together Indy
    The mayor needs to keep his nose out of how businesses handle storms. He should instead focus on how he handles them. Shutting down the city's bus service for two work days in a row is a huge failure. People depend on those buses. They depend on that transportation to get food, supplies, etc during weather that makes walking a long distance dangerous. They also depend on the busses to get to work. I have several employees who are losing a second day of pay because they were unable to make it to work. I am not going to fire them, because it is out of their control, but they are hourly employees, not getting hours, not getting paid. For a storm that hit on a Sunday at 7am - 8pm! A Sunday, the snow ended a full 12 hours before rush hour.
  • Work on Tuesday
    I completely understand the need to shut down on Monday, and I even let my employees come in today at noon due to the weather. But... The Mayor should not be involved in how businesses ask their employees to come in unless he is willing to pick up the tab for the business paying salaries, while employees sit at home. Sorry, I know that may seem insensitive, but two days without employees and paying them for not working seems a bit much!

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  1. why oh why does this state continue to elect these people....do you wonder how much was graft out of the 3.8 billion?

  2. i too think this is a great idea. I think the vision and need is there as well. But also agree with Wendy that there may be better location in our city to fulfill this vision and help grow the sports of hockey and figure skating in Indy. Also to help further develop other parts of the city that seem often forgotten. Any of the other 6 townships out side of the three northernmost could benefit greatly from a facility and a vision like this. For a vision that sounds philanthropic, the location is appears more about the money. Would really like to see it elsewhere, but still wish the development the best of luck, as we can always use more ice in the city. As for the Ice growth when they return, if schedules can be coordinated with the Fuel, what could be better than to have high level hockey available to go see every weekend of the season? Good luck with the development and the return of the Ice.

  3. How many parking spaces do they have at Ironworks? Will residents have reserved spaces or will they have to troll for a space among the people that are there at Ruth Chris & Sangiovese?

  4. You do not get speeding ticket first time you speed and this is not first time Mr.Page has speed. One act should not define a man and this one act won't. He got off with a slap on the wrist. I agree with judge no person was injured by his actions. The state was robbed of money by paying too much rent for a building and that money could have been used for social services. The Page family maybe "generous" with their money but for most part all of it is dirty money that he obtained for sources that are not on the upright. Page is the kind of lawyer that gives lawyers a bad name. He paid off this judge like he has many other tine and walked away. Does he still have his license. I believe so. Hire him to get you confiscated drug money back. He will. It will cost you.

  5. I remain amazed at the level of expertise of the average Internet Television Executive. Obviously they have all the answers and know the business inside and out.