A couple of years ago, the world was abuzz with fear of an influenza pandemic. This has obviously now been supplanted in most people's minds by the financial crisis pandemic. Odd as it may seem, though, there are some preparedness steps that can help you survive both.
One of the most significant advances in the past few years is the availability, affordability, and functionality of collaboration and teleconferencing software. These tools now enable you to be “at work” no matter where you are physically, given that you have appropriate network capabilities and security measures.
So what’s the economic crisis tie-in? According to our recent 2009 Network Plans and Priorities State-of-the-Market report, staff headcount is one of the areas that will be significantly affected in the coming year, with 8% of the responding companies anticipating some level of increase and 45% anticipating some level of decrease. At the same time, this stable or reduced workforce will be expected to do more with fewer resources.
Result: You can ill-afford to have a sick workforce (pun intended).
In the “good old days,” it was a sign of dedication and loyalty to go to work no matter what. Steve even remembers calling a client to attempt to reschedule in-house training because he was sick with a cold/bronchitis and wasn’t sure he could talk for a day. The client, having rearranged staff schedules for the class, very strongly encouraged him to make the cross-country trip anyhow, and even offered to bring him chicken soup from home.
Imagine how many people were affected by this trip, not only being couped up in a training room all day, but also spreading the germs throughout the bacterial/viral incubator known as an airplane.
At this point, we have sufficient resources for collaboration and conferencing that if staff members are even mildly ill, they should be encouraged to stay home – and still work from home (of course).
Whether the genesis of implementing this level of telecommuting is for direct economic effects, the health of the workplace, reduction of the carbon footprint by reducing the number of cars on the road, or any of a number of other good reason, the time for making telecommuting a priority in the overall communications strategy is mandatory – now more than ever.