The World Health Organization announced Friday that H1N1 cases are on the rise in China and Japan, while the virus is continuing to initiate an early start to the winter flu season in Europe, Central Asia and North America.
A quick check of Flu.gov, a comprehensive interagency web site, will provide you with a slew of information on ways to identify, prevent and treat the illness. Among the various recommendations, a few items that pertain to the workplace stood out.
Come up with a Plan
The site encourages businesses to plan appropriate prevention and response strategies in order to maintain business operations and minimize adverse effects.
At InterCall, we launched an internal plan last spring in order to protect our workers while still offering the highest degree of customer service and support. Because of the nature of our work, InterCall has the flexibility and capability to manage and support most operations remotely when necessary. We’ve even developed instructional programs in order for additional staff to be trained on essential operational duties in short notice, emergency situations.
Communicate Your Plan
Once you’ve established your pandemic strategy be sure to communicate it to employees and stakeholders. Flu.gov says:
• Establish and clearly communicate policies on sick leave and employee compensation
• Encourage ill persons to stay home during a pandemic and establish return-to-work policies after illness
• Establish policies for sick-leave absences unique to a pandemic (e.g., liberal/unscheduled leave)
Don’t Forget Conferencing!
Finally, in mitigation guidelines issued by the CDC, “teleworking” strategies are cited as an effective method for reducing contact among susceptible or afflicted individuals and groups. Flu.gov encourages businesses to limit face-to-face meetings and modify workplace practices by promoting the use of conferencing as an alternative meeting solution. In addition to reducing contact among those who may be ill, the site says that conferencing “would help employees balance their work and family responsibilities.”
Need to keep your germs to yourself? If you think you’re experiencing symptoms but still feel well enough to work, if you’re in the minimum 24-hour post-flu exclusionary/recovery period or if you need to stay home with sick kids, try a conference instead. With simple tools you already have at home—a phone, computer and Internet connection—you can hold meetings just as if you were in the office.
You can get a free one month trial of InterCall Unified Meeting, our integrated audio and web conferencing service, to see how easy and convenient it is. Just visit our web site to get started today.
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