Why has Ireland estimated that Storm Ophelia cost the Irish economy €1m?

Monday 16th October saw many in the UK marvel at the red sky and sun. But for Ireland, Storm Ophelia was less a strange sky and more a national emergency. Ireland bore the brunt of the storm as it blew in from the Atlantic, suffering damaging winds, lashing rain and unfortunately loss of life. This is all stuff you see on the news across the other side of the Atlantic, but not this side of the pond, rarely on the European side (it’s estimated to be every 3.5 years one develops on our side of the Atlantic). The Business Insider and Forbes wrote about how this could become more prevelant as the world warms up. 

Yesterday morning I woke up to stories in the Irish press about the impact the storm has had on the economy (as well as life in Ireland) and the figures were scary: €1billion. This down to multiple factors such as mandatory office, school and university closures, transport suspensions, etc. I found the figure staggering and it made me wonder what the impact would be if the storm had tracked a few hundred miles east and hit the South, South East and England got the remnants. Imagine shutting London; what cost would that be to the economy? 

My role at TSG, as a member of the Product Management team, is to push the boundaries of technology and look at ways in which it can improve our businesses. Yesterday I presented to our lovely North East customers as part of our Futuretech series, and I am talking about providing mobility to staff alongside other members of the Product Management team. We have the technology via Office 365, mobile phones, hosted telephony and web apps to actually be productive when we have natural disasters such as the storm the last few days.  

Now €1billion is a national cost, but included in that will be many small businesses losses. Losses from being closed, with customers elsewhere in the world still working (some big multinational customers are based out of Ireland). What is the power of at least still being able to answer the call to the business? Even if it is to say that you’re closed, answering the call is priceless. I would love to see stats (if you could get them) of how many customers will have called an Irish business (not necessarily knowing they were closed), then called another international operation as they couldn’t get through, and are now doing business with them instead. 

In the UK, whether you believe in global warming and the trends discussed in the above article or not, the fact is we must have the power to operate in these scenarios.  We can’t change natural events, but what we can do is prepare to minimise the impact on our businesses when things like this happen. Winter is coming (no I don’t do Game of Thrones, no pun intended), and that poses its own risks. From snow days to children’s sickness. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to empower staff to care for their children when they are ill, but also work during the day and be available to the business? Even better, be prepared for when a storm like Ophelia hits the main economic powerhouses of the UK.