Using Twitter for Our Weather Delay Notifications

Warehouse closed Twitter account

This morning I awoke to a pretty sizable winter storm, especially for the middle of November. Due to the warmish weather we’ve had recently, the 8-10 inches of snow that we received felt more like 8-10 inches of sleet. It was heavy and wet to move, and the roads were not great this morning.

I’ve advocated in the past for employers to be smarter about days like today. Unless you’re a doctor or a police officer or some other job that’s critical to society, stay home until it’s safe. In the e-commerce world, FedEx, UPS, and USPS will cancel pickups or delay the movement of packages, so it’s unlikely that you can do anything to get a package to a customer any faster anyway. And, in this day and age, most people can do at least some of their work from home.

Today we opened two hours late, which was the right amount of time for the roads to be clear and safe, and still also gave us time to ship. For the first time, we used our new alert system…which is basically a Twitter account.

For many years I would send out a group text and ask everyone to reply. As our team grew, we decided last year to get rid of the reply part. Unfortunately, we ran into a scenario where two employees didn’t get the text message (their carrier, Sprint, did deliver it several hours later, after they had made it to the warehouse), so we decided we needed something new for this year. After brainstorming everything from building a custom program to paying for a SaaS product that was overkill, we simply decided on a Twitter account.

Employees who use Twitter can either download the app and set up push notifications, or they can set up SMS notifications on the web. If they don’t have Twitter, they just check the URL for our Twitter account, just like you’d check the local news to see if school is closed. We also set it up to auto-post to Facebook because some of our team members preferred setting up a push notification that way.

Simple for us to set up. Simple for everyone to access. Win-win!