In "Telecommuting - A business lifeline," I noted that an infectious disease doesn't attack your property - it attacks your employees. In a flu pandemic, therefore, perhaps your first priority is to protect your people.
One way to protect your employees from infection is to physically separate them from each other and from outsiders. That may sound extreme, but it's especially valuable and it's only temporary. Send them home or divide them among temporary satellite offices.
To continue their ability to work, equip them for telecommuting*. Telecommuting may not apply to all of your employees. But in this data-driven, information age, it may apply to many of them.
Telecommuting that is simple and always ready
Aim to have a telecommuting setup that is:
- Easy to learn & use. Amid the disruptions and uncertainties of a pandemic, your employees don't need PC problems. You don't either.
- Ready to implement immediately. Pandemic events might unfold quickly and in unpredictable ways. Stay ahead of it. Be ready beforehand.
Telecommuting that is transparent
The preferred approach to telecommuting is not to send your employees home with copies of PC files on a USB flash drive, but to let them use their office PCs remotely. That's their familiar environment: all of their files, organized the same way; all of the same applications, including office email; etc.
Option #1: Move their PCs to a remote location. A big hassle for desktop PCs and servers. A lesser hassle for laptop PCs.
Option #2: Leave their PCs in place. With the right tools, they can log-on to their office PC from any PC that has a Web browser and broadband Internet connection. The office PC's "desktop" appears on the remote PC's screen. The office PC is controlled from the remote PC.
This second option is transparent. Your employees are in their familiar PC work environment. They know where everything is. They have access to their latest version of all files. Plus earlier versions. Plus files they might have forgotten to put on the flash drive. When they get back to the office, they don't have to keep track of different versions of a file on the PC and on the flash drive (although there are synchronization programs for that).
They have access to all of their software applications (without having to buy second copies for their remote PC). They have transparent access to office email. They have access to servers or other resources on your office's network.
Functionally, it's just like they were sitting at their office PC. They're simply using the PC from a remote location (home, satellite office, hotel, wherever).
If that sounds attractive to you, you'll understand why GoToMyPC has been so successful.
Tomorrow, I'll explain what GoToMyPC is and how it might be the backbone of your telecommuting during a flu pandemic.
TIP: If you need the ability to connect several computers for a group meeting, including audio conferencing, look at GoToMyPC's companion application, GoToMeeting. I explain GoToMeeting here. If you also need the ability to conduct online Web presentations for up to 1,000 participants - including audio conferencing, interactive Q&A, and attendee registration & reporting - look at GoToWebinar. GoToWebinar could be used to share information at once with many employees or many customers, for example. All three of these services have flat pricing and unlimited use.
TIP: Read my post "Telecommuting - A business lifeline" to learn how and why a pandemic might scatter your employees away from the office. Think it Through.
TIP: For telecommuting, a very basic PC configuration might suffice. To use GoToMyPC, the PC just needs to have a Web browser and a broadband Internet connection. GoToMyPC does NOT need office application software on the remote PC; you use your office PC's software. (You're just remotely-controlling your office PC, remember?) So you don't have to buy additional licenses of the software applications your employees use. If you want office application software on the remote PCs, consider the free and very functional OpenOffice suite. (More ideas about open source software.) Also think about any peripherals your telecommuters might need such as printers, USB flash drives, scanners, and CD writers.
Related Telecommuting posts
Telecommuting - A business lifeline
Telecommuting Tools - Using PCs by remote control <---YOU ARE HERE
Telecommuting Tools - What is GoToMyPC?
Telecommuting Tools - Web-based group conferencing (GoToMeeting)
Telecommuting Tools - USB flash drives
Telecommuting Tools - Portable applications
Telecommuting Tools - Portable applications for U3 smart drives
Telecommuting Tools - USB flash drives vs. Other portable data storage
Telecommuting Tools - USB flash drives vs. remote computing (GoToMyPC)
Telecommuting Tools - What size USB flash drive?
Blog Category: "Telecommuting"
*Telecommuting refers to working in a place other than the traditional business office - typically working from home or an alternate "remote" office. You communicate with the main office via telecommunications networks - telephone, fax, and Internet-connected PC.