Many businesses have watched from the sidelines as schools have scrambled to deal with a potential H1N1 virus outbreak. But now companies are taking notice too. They have little choice. Ignore the virus and business leaders could put their companies in peril.
Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security urged small businesses to devise contingency plans to keep operations going in the event of a major H1N1 virus outbreak- otherwise known as the swine flu. The goal is to prevent an economic disruption if the virus does spread (government guidelines below).
The jury is still out on the swine flu, but if it did spread it could move very rapidly, disabling millions of workers.
Better to think now about assuring business continuity, rather than later.
Are you prepared to meet customer demands if the pandemic soars? What are you doing to keep employees connected and in touch? Are you equipped to deal with large number of employees working from home? How are you ensuring productivity of employees who are absent from work and telecommuting?
This all boils down to communications.
To help, below are a few tips from Sprint to keep your operations running smoothly. This is based on work the company has done to protect its own operations and business dating back to 2005:
- Conduct assessments of key vendors to maintain access to energy, raw materials and switched telephone network.
- Consider having individual business units conduct a Pandemic Impact Analysis, as Sprint did, to assess how pandemic flu might impact each unit.
- Identify key contacts within local, state and federal government with which your company will need to build relationships before a crisis occurs.
- Assess your particular telecommuting needs for a pandemic situation and scale your remote user capabilities appropriately.
- Enhance your social distancing plans by increasing video, web and audio conferencing capabilities.
- Do not rely solely on residential Internet access to serve employees who plan to telecommute during a pandemic. Consider using wireless broadband in addition to cable or DSL service to enable remote working from a range of locations. A remote office can be set up using wireless 3G technology.
- Consider unified communications solutions to improve efficiency during a crisis. You want to integrate your telecom operations with a unified communications strategy system that:
- Merges employee desktop and mobile phones, so that callers can dial a single number that rings both devices;
- Enables access to voicemail and e-mail messages via computer software or mobile device vs. checking multiple systems;
- Allows employees to instantly know which teammates are available and connect to them at any given moment with such services as corporate instant messaging or other collaboration tools.
Click the following link for a complete list of Sprint’s preparedness tips for businesses and consumers to use during a pandemic flu.
The government guidelines can be found at www.sba.gov/flu