Last year alone, we faced a devastating series of events ranging from floods to wildfires and hurricanes, all during a global pandemic. Organizations need to be ready to adapt and respond to these incidents and more. Because if the recent polar vortex that swept over the South and the Midwest is any indication, this year likely won’t be much better than the last.
Texas was the hardest hit of all states by the cold, experiencing massive, widespread power outages. Right away, BlackBerry recognized that we had a responsibility to keep our employees safe. That’s why, in the early stages of the crisis, we used BlackBerry® Alert to send a severe weather notification to staff in locations impacted by the disaster.
The Power to Reach Out
Several days into the crisis, we recognized we could do more. That, through collaboration between our accountability officers and business unit leaders, we could use BlackBerry Alert to actively protect and shelter our people. It all started with a single employee in Austin.
One of our employees was not only without power but dealing with burst pipes in his apartment. He and his wife had to evacuate, but they had nowhere to go – hotels were fully booked, and they had no family nearby. He reached out to us and asked if they could stay in the office that night.
We had, up to this point, not considered the possibility of using our worksites as a place of shelter for employees. But it made sense – there were likely other employees in the same situation as him, and we as an employer feel a responsibility to keep them safe.
With that in mind, we prepped our Austin office, working with facilities and multiple other departments to ensure they had heat and power.
Outside, the situation continued to worsen. Infrastructure broke down, unable to handle the extreme temperatures. Things soon went from bad to worse. The power outage continued, now coupled with widespread ‘boil water’ advisories.
After sending out an alert about the advisory, we decided it was time to account for staff – to make sure everyone could get to safety. We sent out a template to everyone in Austin and Irving, and the surrounding regions. My colleagues and I then formed a partnership with BlackBerry’s accountability officers and management from each site.
Together, we worked to carry out active accounting for our nearly 300 employees, which was accomplished in just a few days. We ultimately achieved a 98% response rate and also saw multiple employees reach out to thank us for the effort and update us on their situation.
BlackBerry Alert may have facilitated our actions in Texas, but none of this would have been possible without the partnership between BlackBerry’s Environment Health & Safety (EH&S) team, Enterprise Business Continuity Management (EBCM) team, accountability officers, and management. And that, I think, is the real lesson here. That no matter how severe the crisis, collaboration is the key to making it through.
Learn more about how the BlackBerry’s EH&S and EBCM teams use BlackBerry Alert.