"Its a complete change from where [companies] were a number of years ago, when nobody wanted to acknowledge that a disaster could occur. Now theyre much more aware of the likelihood, and in many cases have very solid disaster recover plans, but they dont accommodate for workplace shortages," Mike Croy, director of business continuity for Forsythe Solutions Group, based in Skokie, Ill., told eWEEK.
The study found that while only 35 percent of companies were prepared to deploy more than 10 percent of their work force remotely, 30 percent felt they needed 60 percent or more of their employee population present to order to maintain adequate business operations.
The study found these statistics troubling in the face of statistics outlined by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office predicting that up to 30 percent of the population could be incapacitated in the event of an Avian flu outbreak, affecting commerce and leading to reduced patronage and closure of public areas.
To prepare for work force shortages, Croy said, companies need to provide critical employees with full remote information and the network content theyll need to support customers.
"The greatest business impact of a potential pandemic is the havoc that will be wreaked by absenteeism on the part of employees who are sick themselves, those who stay home to care for family members, and those who are quarantined or stay home to avoid becoming sick. It is essential that organizations move beyond awareness to preparedness.
"In doing so, they should approach pandemic planning holistically, including IT and the business units as well as human resources and facilities management in every related discussion," Croy said.