A brief look back at some of the events of 2010 shows that organisations across the UK were hit with an unusually wide variety of interruptions to their operation, some of which were of unprecedented ferocity.

In addition to the usual mix of transport strikes, for example, businesses had to cope with heavy snowfalls at both the start and the end of the year, severe flooding in many parts of the UK and the after-effects of the volcanic ash-cloud in April.

So how did they cope with this ‘perfect storm’ of natural disasters and man-made disruptions? At the start of the year, YouGov research showed that up to 124 million working hours were lost in one week alone, as the snow had a significant impact on the ability of almost half the UK’s workforce to get to work.

Yet by the end of the year, a similar study of how individuals and businesses coped with the wintry weather in December showed that small businesses in particular are becoming better prepared to reduce the effect of such disruptions. To a large degree this is because they have introduced tools enabling more staff to work at home or elsewhere away from the office – maintaining productivity and ensuring business as usual.

Citrix Online saw an increase of up to 70% in trials and usage of our range of online remote working tools during the first week of the snowfall in early December. This upturn was no doubt replicated to a greater or lesser degree by other providers, indicating a growing understanding among users that the adoption of affordable, easy to use remote collaboration solutions means that having key staff in the wrong location at the wrong time is no longer a barrier to effective working.

It also indicates that for those organisations that still remain unprepared, now is the time to put appropriate measures in place in readiness for the next time business is disrupted – for whatever reason.