Snow Days for the Business Office

Vol. 14 No. 6

businessmanager eletter Vol14 No6 SnowWalk

While students and faculty can relax during serendipitous snow days, the Business Office’s work never rests. Deadlines and requirements remain, even when the wind howls and ice beads on sidewalks. So this month, we’d like to talk about four things the Business Office must keep in mind to continue working—despite the season’s foulest weather.

  1. Ensure the highest priority work can continue. Whatever assignments and reports have immoveable deadlines are those that absolutely cannot afford to take a hit from bad weather. Be prepared to work from home by gathering important (nonsensitive) reports and documents, usernames and passwords for cloud-accessible software applications, and required hardware. Don’t be caught flatfooted by a foot of snow!
  2. Set up a system of accountability for those in the office during telecommuting days. A “system of accountability” can either be a way for you personally to stay on top of tasks in a distraction-filled environment, or a team-based method of helping everyone work as “normally” as possible. Some great, noninvasive ways to stay accountable while working from home are:
    1. a casual, online conversation through a free chat application (e.g., Skype, Hangouts, or Slack), ensuring that everyone is available to “talk” about potential issues that arise or just check in;
    2. a personal checklist (kept in Google Keep or Evernote) that keeps you on track and helps you avoid distractions;
    3. an email roundup at the end of the day that lists all accomplished tasks during the day, sent to you as the Business Manager; and
    4. a scheduled electronic “meeting” for which people either call in or use a webcam to appear “in person,” to help the telecommuting to feel more “normal.”
  3. Pay everyone for work completed. Your school must pay non-exempt employees for any time they have worked, even if it’s “volunteered” and done in an effort to not fall behind.
  4. Be understanding about a potential drop in efficiency. Snow days bring with them time-consuming home maintenance chores. (How long did it take everyone on the East Coast to dig out their cars for Winter Storm Jonas last month?) While the important tasks absolutely must be handled, it’s difficult to expect everyone to be operating at 100% efficiency during a weather emergency. Depending on how long the bad weather lasts, power could go out, phones could die, and employees could be physically unable to perform any sort of work.

Additional ISM resources:
The Source for Business Managers Vol. 8 No. 5 Snow Days on Campus
The Source for Division Heads Vol. 13 No. 5 The Questionable Necessity of Snow Day Make Ups
The Source for Business Managers Vol. 10 No. 1 Five Online Management Tools

Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 30 No. 12 Lessons From Katrina: Disaster Planning at Private-Independent Schools

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