While the recent outbreak of swine flu is not considered a pandemic at this point, the increasing number of infections discovered worldwide is certainly fuelling concerns that such an outcome might be inevitable. Unhelpful worrying aside, are there any practical steps that a small and medium-sized business can take in order to emerge standing from what looks to be a bumpy ride ahead?
First of all, I want to say that I lived through the SARS outbreak back in 2003. For the uninitiated, it was a flu epidemic that seemed to hit Asian countries particularly hard. While Singapore was hardly in the epicenter of this epidemic, I witnessed first-hand how aggressive government intervention to track down and quarantine infected citizens - or those exposed to them - prevented the virus from spiralling out of control.
As such, SMBs will do well to prepare for high employee absenteeism either due to quarantine or the company allowing them to stay at home - away from vectors of infection such as maddeningly crowded subways, for example.
Today, I highlight a couple of simple ways that SMBs can support teleworking.
Have employee actually try working from home
It would be foolhardy to assume that an employee with a laptop and Internet access will automatically become productive at home. As such, it makes sense to stagger staffers to actually spend a day working from home before they are compelled to do so. The idea behind such a "fire drill" is to guarantee readiness and to ensure that no important areas are inadvertently missed.
And remember to collect feedback from their experiences, paying special emphasis to factors that impede productivity.
Configure employee machines for remote IT support
Even the savviest of employees will encounter issues with their machines from time to time. It makes sense that company-issued laptops should be equipped with the appropriate software that will allow the company's IT department to provide remote support.
In instances where employees use their personal desktop to work from home, it is by far a better option to schedule an appointment to install the above support software now - rather than later.
Remember the saying: If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail. This certainly holds true where teleworking is concerned.