Maintaining Business Continuity with Visual Communications
According to the World Health Organization, the swine flu (influenza H1N1) has reached pandemic proportions worldwide, infecting more than 414,000 people, causing nearly 5000 deaths. In light of the heightened concerns, executives worldwide are being forced to dust off their business continuity plan and revisit their policies.
When the virus first hit Mexico in 2009, many businesses were forced to completely shut down as people were encouraged to stay at home. While some may say we're better prepared for a large-scale outbreak today then we were then, the threat of operations being crippled is still a real possibility and concern.
To prepare, businesses of all sizes are investigating ways to keep their operations running successfully in any situation. Telework has emerged as one of the best solutions to help safeguard against the detrimental impact of H1N1, as it allows business continuity without physical risks of contamination to illness. While telework is a great alternative, organizations must be sensitive to the fact that working remotely can result in employees feeling isolated and processes becoming muddled due to the inefficiencies of conference calls and email communication.
According to Dr. Robert C. Chandler, an expert on organizational behavior and communication during human health crises, "Preparedness and communication are the foundation to any effective plan. Given the widespread risk of H1N1, businesses with the ability to maintain communication via virtual face-to-face connectivity will undoubtedly come out ahead."
Here are three of the benefits of incorporating visual communications into your business continuity plans:
Influenza, including the H1N1 swine flu, is primarily spread from person to person through coughs and sneezes. Tele-work helps reduce the risk of catching and spreading H1N1 in multiple ways:
Avoid the travel bug - Airplanes can be incubators for the flu virus, with close quarters and recycled air. Rather than holding in-person meetings, connect with the most important customers, executives and partners face-to-face using video conferencing. Not only does it save your business time and money, it also helps shelter your employees from a particularly risky situation.
Isolate employees from risk instead of quarantining them from productivity - If a member of an employee's household falls ill, whether he needs to stay home to care for the patient or not, coming into the office and possibly exposing others to H1N1 is out of the question. Empower employees with the flexibility to be productive and safe remotely with tele-work options.
Maintain operations - Pandemics can bring regular operations to a halt, if not planned for accordingly. Video conferencing helps organizations preserve some of the most important priorities necessary to keep businesses running.
Promote an efficient home work environment - Large scale pandemics can affect transportation, communities and cities. If physically coming into the office is difficult or impossible, companies require viable alternatives to ensure business operations continue successfully. Visual communications allows the same collaborative work environment to persist anywhere, in times when in-person meetings are not possible.
Catch up or ramp up, remotely - Knowledge management is crucial when businesses cannot ensure employees can attend every meeting. With video conferencing, meetings are available on demand for instant playback, so whether an employee is coming back from recovery or falls ill after an important meeting, the chain of knowledge continues.
Enhance communication effectiveness - In times of panic, people need resolute plans and clear communication to stay calm and grounded. There are times when a conference call or email simply will not have the same impact as a face-to-face conversation. An emergency is one of those times. Face-to-face communication can build trust and relieve stress - when people need it most.
Build trust internally - During a crisis, seeing and understanding non-verbal cues can ease the anxiety and alarm. High definition video will help provide clarity in a chaotic situation and reassurance to concerned employees.
Promote confidence externally - When customers can see that operations are still up and running, they will have more conviction in the strength of the business. When partners are visibly able to meet with employees, no matter where they are located, they will be assured that their business will not be interrupted. Video conferencing shows key constituents that the company is reliable and open for business.
Airlines risk losing business travelers to new rules
Technology is making it easier for business travelers to skip the airport. In light of recent events and tighter airport security, more companies will be encouraged use video conferencing to cut time at airports.
What the business traveler doesn't want to have to do is spend three hours at the airport to take a one-hour flight.”
Forrester Research V.P. Henry Harteveldt
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