Preparing your Business For Swine Flu

“People are most infectious to others soon after they develop symptoms, although they continue to shed the virus (for example, in coughs and sneezes) for up to five days (seven days in children). People become less infectious as their symptoms subside, and once their symptoms are gone, they are no longer considered infectious to others.

Swine flu spreads in the same way as ordinary colds and flu. The virus is spread through the droplets that come out of the nose or mouth when someone coughs or sneezes.

If someone coughs or sneezes and they do not cover it, those droplets can spread about one metre (3ft). If you are very close to the person you might breathe them in.

Or, if someone coughs or sneezes into their hand, those droplets and the virus within them are easily transferred to surfaces that the person touches, such as door handles, hand rails, telephones and keyboards. If you touch these surfaces and touch your face, the virus can enter your system, and you can become infected.

According to the Health Protection Agency, the incubation period for swine flu (time between infection and appearance of symptoms) can be up to seven days, but is most likely to be between two and five days. It is, however, too early to be able to provide details on virus characteristics, including incubation period, with absolute certainty at this time.” NHS Guide to Swine Flu.

Average cases are taking 7 to 14 days to be symptom free.

How will your business handle upwards of 15% of the work force off sick at any one time for the next several months?

The key to this is preparedness. As with all disaster recovery situations every hour spent in planning now is worth several dealing with the situation once you are in its grip.

Other than cross training staff for more esoteric roles and preparing relationships with temp agencies a key consideration for your business continuity is IT.

Whilst this may not help you in a retail or production environment it will help your office based staff keep your business relationships alive.

  • Telephone systems. Can these be rerouted to allow your staff to work from home? Can you set up “Hunt Groups” to call a distributed, virtual office environment if people cannot physically get to the office?
  • Remote Web Workspace. Can your staff work on your systems from home to minimise the risks of cross infection?
  • Outlook Web Access. Can you have staff maintain contact by email from anywhere?
  • Does your Software support this already? Using Microsoft Small Business Server or Essential Business Server your almost certainly have some facility.
  • Do you have the right licencing? Find out now! Can additional licences be supplied quickly if you need them?
  • Hardware. Will your current network Infrastructure and hardware support a large throughput of remote workers?
  • Virtual Fax Service. Is fax still important to you? Fax to email services may well be of assistance.

The current Flu pandemic may be handled in a similar fashion to any denial of premises disaster. The only major difference being that it may be your choice that infected staff do not come to work.

For assistance testing and preparing a full plan contact IT Ambulance on 0800 0214 999.