Wednesday, October 28, 2009

How the Flu Affects Business

We have all heard the warnings to take extra precautions to avoid getting the flu this year. Wash your hands. Get the flu shot. Flu season is just getting underway and already we have record setting cases of the flu reported. Is this the year that the U.S. will see a serious influenza pandemic that has the potential of crippling the workforce? People have struggled through the economy trying to hold on to their homes and jobs and now the flu threatens to keep them off work for a week or more. Make no mistake; the flu can keep a person sidelined for a long miserable week. Even then, it may take a few more days for them to recover their strength and get back to normal.

What are the options if employers do not want sick employees to come to work and risk infection to others and why are we writing about it on an international trade blog?

To provide opportunities that are more flexible for employees to remain productive while protecting the actual workplace, more employers are offering telecommuting options to employees. For example, a mother caring for a young child with the flu could work from home. This solution works well for everyone. The employee/mother can stay at home to take care of the child and continue to be productive. The employer is able to operate efficiently without worries of more employees becoming infected. Sounds like a great plan, right? Yes, telecommuting is a solution that benefits all parties; however, we must also plan for things that could disrupt our perfect solution. In an article on
Homeland Security Today, Anthony Kimery explains that the increased number of telecommuters could create congestion on the Internet, thus slowing communications. Internet providers are not equipped to handle the heavy traffic on residential lines, which could hinder the work performed by telecommuters. Kimery points out that the Department of Homeland Security has not developed a strategy to deal with the potential internet congestion that could delay essential communications. Hopefully, DHS, Internet providers, employers and the public will develop a plan that will make telecommuting a viable option without disrupting communication systems. In the meantime, the Wizard reminds you to drink orange juice, take your vitamins, get plenty of sleep, practice good hygiene and avoid close contact with sick people.

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