Commuting crisis averted, but business continuity remains critical

Just a few days ago, 5,400 workers on the Long Island Rail Road were on the verge of a major strike threatening the commutes of more than 300,000 New York residents. Luckily for public officials, LIRR employees and daily train passengers, an agreement has finally been reached that will let everyone get back to work for the time being.

Thanks to the intervention of Governor Andrew Cuomo in the waning minutes before the strike’s initiation, differences were set aside in favor of a decision that keeps the rail road in operation without forcing an increase in fares. While Metropolitan Transit Authority officials and union leaders were unable to get exactly what they demanded, the compromise offered a favorable conclusion, CBS reported.

Handshakes and smiles
In a press conference, Cuomo announced that MTA  Chairman Thomas Prendergast and the unions’ chief negotiator, Anthony Simon, met Thursday after discussions had stalled the previous day. Despite having stated that he would not get involved in the negotiations, Cuomo stepped up to facilitate an agreement that put an end to the four year dispute.

“Compromise, by definition, means that neither side gets everything that they wanted to get,” Cuomo said, as quoted by the news source. “But it means that we reached an agreement, and we can move forward.”

Back to the office – for now
Now that commuters have the green light to get back on their beloved trains on Monday morning, New York’s transportation contingency plans won’t have to be put to use. Employees that would have had to turn to busses, ferries and taxis to get to work can rest assured that the LIRR will be up and running to bring them to their destinations.

“This is good news for hundreds of thousands of riders who will continue to have the transit service that they rely on,” Mayor Bill de Blasio was quoted as saying by The Wall Street Journal.

Although Thursday’s scene showed happy faces all around, businesses in the tri-state area are by no means guaranteed that employees will enjoy smooth sailing (or in this case, riding) on the LIRR in the future. Compromises are tentative by nature, and decision-makers must ensure that they have contingency plans of their own for if and when another strike rears its head.

Businesses can’t get lazy
Since top-level MTA negotiations are well beyond the jurisdiction of business leaders, continuity strategies must be prepared in order to make the most out of another walkout situation. Companies must plan two steps ahead by developing policies that let workers telecommute, access remote workstations and collaborate with fellow employees in the area.

There’s no sense in relying on the state’s infrastructure to handle a company’s business continuity plans – these solutions are often fickle and tend to result in a disgruntled workforce that isn’t likely to produce at its full potential. Decision-makers need to take matters into their own hands to stay in top form regardless of where public officials stand on back-and-forth issues.

Natural threats persist
Labor strikes aren’t the only potential obstacles standing in the way of businesses that depend on a commuting workforce. There are a number of naturally-occurring factors that could interrupt operations faster than a flash of lightning – sometimes literally. Hurricane season is in full swing, according to CNN. Companies must have a range of continuity and recovery solutions in place if they want to maintain an edge over the competition during a crisis.

This means that decision-makers need a multi-faceted approach to continuity, emphasizing employee access to office resources and materials while ensuring that servers and applications are fully backed up. Companies that stay ahead of the curve when it comes to recovery will be prepared for anything thrown their way.