I do not watch much TV, but as far as I can tell, the media have been relatively quiet about the Swine Flu recently. Many experts agree that there is a good chance that we will see a second wave of infections, which might be larger than the previous one. Especially for business that are facing rough times and that are already running on a skeleton crew, business continuity can be serious jeopardized if a significant number of employees is going to be out sick for an extended period of time.

Organizations can do a few things to reduce the chance that they are confronted with significant employee absence. The centers for disease control (CDC) recommend the following:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone
    except to get medical care or for other necessities. Keep away from
    others as much as possible to keep from making others sick.

Talk to your employer to see if she or he is willing to put up alcohol-based soap dispensers by the entrances to your work area and use it every time you enter your workplace. If they do, make sure they are refilled when empty and fixed if they are broken.

Alternatively, obtain a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer and wash your hands every time you return to your desk. This is a very low-cost solution, but one that is extremely effective. These measures will not provide 100% protection, but they will reduce your chance of getting sick.

Business should start to verify that employees who are able to work from home have the ability to do so. Verify that everyone as their authentication credentials lined up, and if you use a secondary form of authentication, double check that your licenses are sufficient and not about to expire. Remind employees of the organization's policy for telecommuting and have workers test their remote access. If revenue streams allow, a great way to test this is through by granting employees a 'telecommute day'.

While a lot of these precautions might turn out to be unnecessary, when it comes to human safety, it is better to be over-prepared.