minimise infection rates while mitigating business risk. Indeed, while an avian flu pandemic would fall under one of the four categories of operational risk defined by the new Basel II banking regulations, it is highly unlikely that the business continuity plans put in place by banks to date would hold in the event of a pandemic.
At the first sign of a pandemic, many individuals will opt to stay at home in any event – choosing to be with and look after their families – despite what the best laid corporate plans may dictate. Indeed, it is expected that the initial response of civil authorities will be to discourage large gatherings of people. If organisations want to achieve business as usual they must put in place solutions that provide not only access to key corporate data resources but also achieve a telephony solution that can replicate an office environment when staff are scattered across multiple remote locations.
Without doubt, if and when an avian flu pandemic hits, the authorities will strongly recommend home working. And while many companies can encourage – even support – staff to adopt broadband at home to enable access to core data systems, distributing the telephone calls is a tougher challenge. And those opting for Voice over IP (VoIP) as a simple solution will be disappointed: VoIP currently offers neither the security nor resilience to support business communication.
What is required is a solution that can automatically forward calls made to the traditional head office number – or individual direct dial numbers – to staff in their new location, wherever that may be. Furthermore, it also needs to be able to intelligently forward calls to a colleague should the intended recipient be unavailable.
Critically, this technology must be easy to use and set up, enabling organisations to remotely change call forwarding numbers and employee locations at the touch of a button. Furthermore, by locating the solution within the telephone exchange – a location that requires technical resilience of 99.999% up time – an organisation also has a solution in place to cope with the traditional business continuity requirements.
Employees should be encouraged to work at home intermittently to test the technology and their ability to communicate effectively with their co-workers. But if organisations are prepared to put in place facilities to enable employees to work from home in times of disaster or crisis, why can this same technology not be deployed on a day-to-day basis? Indeed, why do so many businesses have a do or die approach to flexible working?
There is surely no justification for limiting remote working to those deemed suitable for Blackberry or other mobile device. Yet in the traditional office hierarchy it has become a mark of seniority or boon of promotion to be provided with the tools to work outside the traditional office environment.
Yet organisations continue to endure poor productivity as staff undertake ever longer commutes and struggle to adequately combine the work/life balance, a problem that leads to increasing levels of time off due to sickness or long term ill health. Furthermore the expensive office location represents a major overhead for many organisations. Does this make any kind of commercial sense?
Do or Die
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