VOIP telephony , a technology that allows employees to work from home, could be the most important measure a business takes today in preparing for the possibility of an swine flu pandemic. Without this infrastructure in place, death and illness and fear could easily cripple a business' workforce.
According to a Washington Post article from writer David Brown , more than half of U.S. companies think there will be a global flu epidemic in the next two years. Two-thirds think it will seriously disrupt their operations and two-thirds say they aren't prepared.
Is your company prepared? Has anyone been appointed to plan for a pandemic?
Tommy G. Thompson, who heads the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions in Washington, estimates that only one in five U.S. companies "are in good position in terms of being able to react -- and even those are going to have to restructure and improve their plans."
Models have suggested that at least a third of the population is likely to become ill in each wave, with peak absenteeism somewhat higher, about 40 percent of the workforce. Depending on the strain's virulence, 900,000 to 10 million people might be hospitalized, and 200,000 to 2 million might die.
Absenteeism can also be attributed to working moms who need to stay to take care of sick family members.
Given this scenario, the consultants say, companies should expect that an swine flu pandemic will kill some employees, temporarily cripple workforces, and sow confusion and fear, as well as force people to make harrowing decisions between allegiances to work or family. It would make communication difficult, threaten supply chains, and probably interrupt production of goods and delivery of services.
Because of this businesses are encouraged to become a co-leader with government in preparing for an swine flu epidemic, including the implementation of VOIP telephony. Fear is worse than disease, making communication vital. Password-protected Web sites are a good way to communicate with employees. Companies are better than government or medical institutions at rotating fresh people onto crisis-management teams. Fear of lost wages is the single biggest concern when workers are asked to home-quarantine, so companies should have clear policies in advance.
The US Government Department of Health and Human Services suggestions include enhancing communications and information technology infrastructures as needed to support employee telecommuting and remote customer access.
Who can work at home? Who needs IT upgrades in advance to make that possible? Who needs to come in? These are just a few questions needed to be addressed when planning for a pandemic.
VOIP telephony is the technology that can help employees work from home. With more and more households having high speed Internet access in place already, implementing VOIP is inexpensive and easy. Manufacturers such as Avaya offer all-in-one IP Office communication systems that can enable your business to work virtually.
Investing in VOIP telephony can help a business survive an swine flu pandemic. For more information on how a company can plan for business continuity during a pandemic call 800-335-0229 or click here for the Department of Health and Human Services check list.