Influenza is responsible for approximately $7 billion worth of lost productivity and sick days each year, according to experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While flu prevention may be a top priority for your company, what are your plans should a bout of the flu strike? Take these steps now to keep your office running:
You don't want sick employees to have to come into work because no one else can perform their duties. Cross-training your employees will eliminate this problem, making it possible for those who are ill to stay home and rest without bringing office productivity to a halt.
You might cross-train everyone in the office to handle the receptionist's duties, so someone is always available to answer customer calls and greet visitors as they arrive. If you make business decisions based on daily reports, make sure several employees know how to produce those reports so business can continue as usual even if the person who typically generates the reports is out with the flu.
It's a best practice to have at least one backup for every employee's core function. Creating an in-house training program will limit the cost of cross-training your employees.
Promote Task Binders
Another way to keep the office running when a valuable employee is out sick is to have your workers create task binders. Task binders document each employee's daily tasks and, when appropriate, provide detailed instructions for performing those tasks. For example, an administrative assistant's task binder should include instructions for accessing the office voicemail, transferring calls from one department to another, distributing mail and packages, and filing documents.
You should also have detailed instructions for operating printers, photocopiers and other office equipment available to everyone. If an employee is out sick, having all of this information available will help other employees maximize their productivity. A sturdy binder, tabbed dividers and other supplies cost just a few dollars, making this a low-cost way to maximize office productivity.
Offer Telecommuting Opportunities
If several employees come down with flu symptoms, it would be best to let them telecommute until they are well enough to come to the office again. Today's technology makes it possible for employees to perform their duties at home, using a personal computer or laptop, smartphone and other tools, so there is no reason for a sick employee to come to the office and spread germs.
One of the potential pitfalls of telecommuting is not having access to vital information or supplies at home, so consider creating a telecommuting kit for when an employee works from home. The kit should include several pieces of company letterhead, a list of important telephone numbers, and a document outlining how to access the company network remotely.
Planning ahead will help you keep your company running when key employees have to miss work due to a flu outbreak. These tools, along with practicing office flu prevention, will help you keep your company running during flu season.