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Be Prepared: Winter Still Packs a Punch

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This year's Almanac predicted that winter temperatures would be much colder from the East Coast to the Great Plains, with lots more snow than last year.  And no matter what the 2013 Groundhog says, we've still got plenty of winter coming.

Is your business prepared for the worst of it?

According to Disaster Recovery Journal, 90 percent of companies who experience a disaster will fail within a year unless they're able to resume operations within five business days.  A disaster doesn't have to be a super storm or cataclysmic event; often something as simple as a cold snap's burst pipe or ice storm's power outage can disrupt "business as usual" beyond an unprepared company's ability to recover.

Having a disaster recovery plan that includes a fully redundant business communication system, emergency power provisions, supply chain contingencies, and vaulted financial and customer data is one place to start.

But there's another way to prepare for a facilities-related disaster: consider increasing the number of teleworkers you have on staff.

Think about it.  Your facility doesn't have to suffer physical damage to incur weather-related losses.  Absent and late workers are a drain on your operations.  Cancelled flights mean missed meetings.  Closed schools keep parents at home.  But if home is the workplace, inability to drive to the office won't affect your staff's ability to get their jobs done.

According to Teleworker Research Network, between 2005 and 2011 teleworking grew by 73%.  Over three million Americans work from home full time, and between 20 and 30 million part time.  The profile of today's typical telecommuter is a college-educated 49-year-old who is a salaried, non-union employee in a management, sales, office or professional role.  Typically he or she earns $58,000 a year and works for a company with more than 100 employees.

The opportunity to telecommute is certainly popular with employees. World at Work says almost 80% of U.S. workers say they would like to work from home. Nearly half the U.S. workforce, 64 million employees, holds a job that is compatible with teleworking at least part time, including roles in customer care, mid and back office support, technology and security, and human resources functions.

Working from home or other non-headquarters locations has a far greater impact on the business than just mitigating snow days. According to Teleworker Research Network, there's a positive ROI on the widespread adoption of telework. If those with compatible jobs and a desire to work from home did so just half the time, the national savings would total over $700 billion a year including:


  • A typical business would save $11,000 per person per year

  • The telecommuters would save between $2,000 and $7,000 a year

  • The oil savings would equate to over 37% of our Persian Gulf imports

  • The greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking the entire New York State workforce permanently off the road.



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Of course, these telecommuting information workers need exemplary access to communications and information tools.  That's where unified communications comes in.  Home workers connected to their headquarters via integrated voice, mail and unified messaging might as well be just down the hall.  UC software features like desktop collaboration tools and video let teams meet in real time and work on projects creatively. And presence features give supervisors an awareness of who's at their desk and working at every moment during the day.

 

It's where the world is heading, despite the weather.