--> Gill Blog: Pandemic Preparedness

Gill Blog

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Pandemic Preparedness

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office estimated Avian Flu could impose a $675 billion hit to the U.S. economy, underscoring the need for businesses and other organizations to adequately plan for the continuity of operations.

Gill Advisors Inc. and Streamlogics Inc. will conduct a webcast tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. to discuss how the economic impact of an outbreak might be better managed by integrating telework as a core component of a business continuity plan. They will be joined by a Senior Official of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) discussing GSA’s telework initiative.

For Gill Advisors Managing Director Tony Gill, it's a case of déjà vu all over again. The 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto began in a hospital located within two miles of his home where he had been taking his father for physiotherapy after knee replacement surgery. The first significant business casualty was the Canadian operations of a global IT firm, whose headquarters were visible from the window of his daughter’s pre-school classroom. The proximity to the outbreak’s epicenter forced him and his wife to remove their daughter from school, stay home, and try to maintain work productivity using a home broadband connection when deadlines were looming.
"The company where I worked was trying to meet an end of the week deadline on a major proposal," Gill recalls, "I was one of the point people one a team of seven, and the thought of being away for an extended period would have been inconceivable a week earlier." The team quickly went into improvisational mode using broadband to exchange emails and documents that required constant revision. “We were on the phones constantly” he continues "but within a short time we set one rule: if you leave your desk, have your cell phone on so if we need you, you’re no more than a call away."

The experience was illuminating as it showed that an improvised adaptation of telework could be used to carry out work. It also proved telework wasn’t necessarily the exclusive domain of IT firms, but could be applied within a broad spectrum of industries.
"Broadband’s here, but there are so many more tools that actually replicate face to face contact," Gill says enthusiastically, "the key is identifying tasks, systematizing them, and incorporating more robust telework tools like webcasting and desktop sharing."

The webcast will discuss tangible ways in which telework can be integrated into a wide range of industries to mitigate the economic hit associated with a potential outbreak. The webcast is available by registration and can be accessed at this link. Anyone unable to attend the live webcast may access the archive by clicking the above link.

By the way, if you're wondering how our improvised team fared with its proposal during that trying week, we won the business.