The modern business landscape is dynamic, yet susceptible to external influences that can disrupt workforce operations. Naturally, what comes to mind are weather conditions or extreme temperatures, that can hinder commuting and even pose significant risks to employee safety, necessitating the need for robust contingency plans. However, weather is not the only external disruptor. Organizations near event hotspots — such as sports stadiums, convention centers, or popular protest sites — must be particularly vigilant.

This summer, for example, workforce disruptions are anticipated in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago, which will host the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in August, respectively. Major conventions attract not only a large influx of visitors but also heightened security measures, demonstrations, and potential protests. Such events often lead to increased traffic, public transport rerouting, and restricted access to certain areas, posing challenges for local organizations. These conditions can significantly impact employees' ability to reach their workplaces altogether and disrupt the flow of business activities — sometimes lasting days.

Organizations located in or near areas where large-scale events and rallies are scheduled should plan to ensure operational continuity and safeguard their workforce during planned large-scale events. 

Anticipating Disruptions from Planned Events

Conventions, rallies, and protests, when announced in advance, give organizations a crucial window for proactive planning.

For example, during the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia, city officials expected 50,000 delegates and their guests and between 35,000‐50,000 demonstrators per day all across the city, with some 28 demonstration permits issued. These events were highly publicized on the city’s website and social media channels. Local organizations were encouraged to check in often for updates and encouraged to ask their employees to use public transportation, especially during the late afternoon rush hour to decrease traffic congestion.

Local businesses located near event sites took extra precautions by moving outside signs, tables, flags, and plants inside during the DNC. Restaurants debated the pros and cons of remaining open to the public, reserving their venues for private events, or closing during the event hours altogether. Other businesses had hoped the influx of people would bolster their businesses.

Anticipating these events is essential in mitigating their impact on your workforce. Here are a few critical steps to consider:

  • Communication Plan: Keep lines of communication open with your employees regarding potential disruptions. Use email alerts, text messaging, or company intranets to provide real-time updates. 
  • Flexible Scheduling: Consider implementing flexible work hours or staggered shifts that allow employees to avoid peak congestion times during major events. 
  • Remote Work Arrangements: Establish policies that enable employees to work from home, if possible. Ensure your team has the necessary technology and resources to maintain productivity remotely. 
  • Transportation Solutions: If remote work isn't feasible, consider arranging alternative transportation options like public transportation or chartered shuttles for your staff. 
  • Cross-Training: Equip employees with the skills to cover for colleagues who might be unable to make it to work, ensuring that vital operations continue uninterrupted. 
  • Stocking Up: For businesses like restaurants, retail stores, or hotels, it's imperative to have additional supplies and resources on hand to handle any increased demand. 
  • Onsite Protection: For some organizations, additional security measures are needed during planned large-scale events. Make preparations in advance, giving security partners enough time to design the right tactical solutions. 

By taking these actions, an organization not only mitigates the immediate logistical challenges but also demonstrates foresight and care for its employees' well-being.

Reactive Strategies to Unplanned Events

Unforeseen disturbances — from unannounced and spontaneous demonstrations — can arise. Several very prominent examples just in the past 10 years triggered widespread disruption, some causing organizations to shut down abruptly due to unpredictable protest activity.

A well-developed crisis management strategy is crucial to help organizations respond to and manage unexpected events or situations. Here are a few ideas to include:

  • Emergency Action Plan: Develop a comprehensive emergency plan tailored to different types of incidents. Regularly update and communicate your plan to ensure employees know how to respond swiftly and safely. Just like in the event of a natural disaster, conduct regular drills based on the event, your facility, and the surrounding area.  
  • Real-Time Alerts: Use a reliable system to monitor and communicate about disruptions in real-time.  
  • Business Continuity Plan: Your organization should have a business continuity plan that addresses critical operations and how they will be maintained or restored.  
  • Mutual Support Agreements: Partner with other local businesses or organizations to provide mutual support during crises, like shared resources or temporary workspaces. 
  • Insurance Review: Ensure your insurance policies cover losses incurred from unexpected business interruptions. 

Response Services

One often overlooked area is response services. If an unplanned incident occurs, resources and security services can become severely limited. Organizations could be left exposed. Before disruptions occur, consider establishing a relationship with a professional security organization that can provide response services, protection, and access control. Not having a plan and resources can make business continuity even more difficult.

Businesses near national conventions, large-scale event venues, or common protest sites must recognize the potential for workforce disruptions. By adopting a dual approach that encompasses both foresight for planned events and readiness for the unpredictable, organizations can protect their operations and provide stability for their employees. Whether through flexible work arrangements, robust communication channels, or emergency planning, the key lies in proactive and nimble management to navigate the challenges of workforce disruptions effectively. 

Published June 18, 2024


City of Philadelphia, Department of Commerce, Business Services. Frequently Asked Questions About Conducting Business During the Democratic National Convention – Business Services ( Accessed June 3, 2024.