Question: I am concerned about the news of the swine flu pandemic. Please tell me some things I should do to be as prepared as possible if it affects my business.
Do not dispair even if you have not yet begun to plan. Something is always better than nothing. Here are a few thoughts to get you started. The chamber has planned a business owner’s business continuity planning breakfast meeting on December 4, 2009, to help. If you need more help before that, please contact your tech committee by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Is Pandemic Part of Your Business Continuity Planning?
The floods, earthquakes and tornadoes of 2008 motivated many companies to revisit or begin Business Continuity Planning. The recent news of a potential Swine Flu Pandemic is just one more reminder of the importance of having a working plan in place. A vital piece of continuity planning is workforce planning specifically for a pandemic. This should include establishing remote access, web conferencing, and identifying backup sites incase sites go down.
In case of a pandemic, companies need to ensure that key personnel can work remotely with secure computer and internet access. Critical systems must be accessible with contingencies in place for access if key personnel get sick and their responsibilities need to be taken over.
In recent years businesses have focused on Business Continuity with specific Pandemic initiatives and virtualization server technology aimed at helping firms keep computer systems and network infrastructures up and running in the event of an outbreak or disaster.
Web conferencing will help your team stay productive and allow them to conduct business without having to travel during times of potential outbreak. Remote access to files and documents is critical to making web conferencing effective.
Locating and equipping a remote operations site during a crisis is next to impossible. Companies such as Agility, specialize in continuity solutions that provide power, technology, space and connectivity in the event of a disaster.
This is a good opportunity for you to emphasize to your employees the normal flu season messages–hand hygiene, stay home if you don’t feel well, etc. The Business Computer Focused Blog located at www.ManageMyTechnology.net recently featured a 12 part series on web-worker tools. Most of the tools are free, all are on the Internet and all provide excellent collaboration features plus management insight into the work.
Key business continuity planning items are below for your informaiton. For more information on Business Continuity and Web-Worker Program Planning, you may see the Chamber’s question and answer web site at www.MBQ4Biz.com or contact the technology committee with questions at DrData4U@gmail.com.
Swine Flu Update
The recent cases of swine flu in Mexico and the US are concerning, because they have occurred in individuals who have not had contact with livestock, indicating human-to-human transmission.
The current year flu vaccine is not expected to provide protection. And millions of Tamiflu treatment courses have been strategically positioned throughout the US.
Deaths have occurred in affected individuals in Mexico, but not in the U.S.
DHS analysis at this time is that disruptions to U.S. critical infrastructure will be low, with impacts on healthcare most likely as symptomatic individuals and worried well individuals seek medical attention.
Should the outbreak intensify, there may be additional effects resulting from increased absenteeism.
Basic precautions, such as hand washing and avoiding contact with symptomatic individuals are recommended.
Key Points of Business Continuity Planning
• Establish one person as your Continuity Director and let your members know who that person is
• Prioritize critical functions
• Identify functions that could be suspended for up to two months
• Identify positions needed to carry out critical functions
• Build depth through cross training
• Plan for alternative work schedules and implement a web-worker program
• Continuity planning for your computer systems and workforce
• Maintain a healthy work environment
• Update sick leave and FMLA policies
• Encourage/require ill employees stay home