My boys have built the biggest snow man today thanks to their school being closed. A bone of contention with some parents, I know. But my sons’ school judged it well today considering the warnings we’ve had, and gave us a few hours’ notice to come and get the little darlings before the snow got too bad.

However there are some schools nearby which pride themselves on keeping their school open despite the snow. Great, if you can safely get the children to and from school, but with local conditions deteriorating – putting performance before safety was not a good call. It leaves parents with no option but to get the car out and drive or walk on treacherous pavements to collect children at the end of a day of heavy snow.
Snowy road with a car driving past a snow warning sign
Now I know every parent had the option not to send their children to school or to pick them up early, but many parents don’t have the choice to take the day off as their jobs expect them in. Or perhaps they feel the school will think less of them and their commitment to their child’s education if they don’t send them in.

Of course the other people who put themselves at risk are the teachers, who’ll probably drive in when they don’t really want too, just to make sure they don’t get thought badly of by the school, or the parents who support the school by sending their children in.

So how have you faired in the bad weather? Have you been able to use the weather warnings to plan meetings and travel to keep people safe?

With snow it’s a funny issue

If you had a day’s notice of an impending serious hazard would you let people make their own minds up about how they handle it? With weather and driving it seems we think we should let people decide if they want to drive or not.

What do you think constitutes travel that is “absolutely necessary” as advised by the AA representative on the news this morning? Well I would prefer an ambulance to turn up if I needed one (especially if I was giving birth again!) And I guess that if the police were not out and about all the thieves with 4x4s would be running riot.

So yes emergency services I would expect to be out. And the guys on the grittier trucks never go home in this weather do they? They just camp in their huts working around the clock. I guess we all expect the shops to be open as normal too. I mean it’s not Christmas is it? So shop workers should put themselves at risk shouldn’t they? And lorry drivers need to get supplies through too. And they can keep the main roads open for us, it has to be said.

Those who follow the advice of the AA may be patted on the back for taking the safe option, as I did this morning when my meeting was rearranged to a telephone call to get the major issues discussed with everyone safely at home.

But this is not the case everywhere it seems. Many people feel they must make it in to work or their boss won’t be happy, and they’re probably right.

Many companies would grind to a halt if the workforce didn’t make it in. And losing money in this financial climate is not something any company wants to face and every worker is aware of this.

On the other hand some people are their own worst enemies and see the drive to work on snow covered roads as a challenge against the elements, like some test of manhood (or womanhood of course). In fact I think women can sometimes feel even more pressure to make it into work if they know their male colleagues will tease them about their inability to tackle the snow and ice.

So would we appreciate this superhero approach with any other working situations? Do you feel like the weather has beaten you if you don’t get into work?

I don’t. Why take unnecessary risks or cause problems for the emergency services by crashing your car if you don’t have to? Now I know you can’t pack biscuits in your living room but generally many jobs today could be done from home with conference calls and emails.

With the amount of warning we get for these weather-related disruptions you probably have time to organise working from home more effectively and have a backup with anyone who can do this. Technology that can help reduce driving at this time would also be a means of reducing travel to meetings generally, giving a saving on fuel and time as well as exposure rate.

The thing with making the decision to close the school or cancel the meeting in view of the weather is what happens if the snow doesn’t fall as hard or at the time it said it would?

Well that’s the difficult reality of making the right call.

Are you and your team making decisions for the right reasons or are you putting yourselves at risk by pretending this weather isn’t a hazard?