Plan for the Short and Long Term

By Jim Lippie  |  Posted 2010-01-14 Print this article Print

Step No. 2: Plan for the short and long term

For short-term emergencies, you will want a way to inform your employees of the status of work: Will the business be open that day and operational? Will a skeleton crew be required? Or will the facility be completely closed? To keep business running through an emergency of short duration, employees will probably need to access key business information and have the ability to respond to incoming requests from customers. Remember to also test your VPN and make sure all employees know how to use it.

For longer term situations such as a pandemic, you can expect that at any point during the six to eight week peak duration of the outbreak, approximately 40 percent of your work force will be out of the office. Excessive absenteeism has its own challenges, including information transfer between employees, productivity issues, and interrupted supply and delivery to the business.  Keep in mind that your business partners may face similar challenges and this can also impact your business.

Step No. 3: Understand the human element

Depending on the situation, employees may be hesitant to travel. Sometimes leveraging a remote solution instead of a business trip or on-site presentation can be the wise decision. There are many remote meeting solutions available such as Web and videoconferencing, as well as traditional conference calls. These solutions offer your employees peace of mind during times of crisis and have the additional benefit of reducing your business costs for travel to customers' locations.

Many businesses have taken steps to ensure that their work force remains both happy and productive by offering flexible hours and telecommuting policies. These types of policies can offer you a way to keep business operational while still meeting the needs of your employees and their families. Several studies indicate that employees who are provided with flexibility about where and when they work are not only more productive, but have greater job satisfaction and company loyalty than employees who are not provided these options.

Jim Lippie is President of Staples Network Services by Thrive Networks. He is responsible for guiding the company's overall business strategy. Before being named president in 2005, Jim served as Thrive Networks' director of business development. Jim also spearheaded the company's successful acquisition by Staples, Inc. Prior to joining the company, Jim was a partner at Client First Associates, a management and organizational development consulting firm. He is the author of "Five Management Principles in One CREAD: A Management Guide to Live By." Jim received a BachelorÔÇÖs degree in Public Relations and a Master's degree in Urban Affairs from Boston University. He can be reached at

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