Telework and Flu Avoidance

Memories are being resurrected of the 1918 flu pandemic that killed millions. Worldwide, the media are full of stories of the potential of the H5N1 avian flu virus to mutate to a form as vicious as the 1918 virus. National, state and local governments, as well as international consortia, are finally developing plans to prepare themselves and their citizens for this threat. Estimates of the number of flu-related deaths vary from a few million to as high as 360 million globally. Estimates for the US range as high as 1.9 million. Conservative estimates of the economic, business and financial impacts range into the hundreds of billions of dollars, with non-dollar costs of similar magnitude.* Whichever of the estimates finally turns out to be valid, consider the consequences for your organization if you are not prepared for such a pandemic. Suppose that half of your staff is either sick, caring for sick relatives, afraid to come in to work, or dead. What would you do?

If ever there was a time for prudent foresight and careful planning, it is now. So, before you panic, please consider the following points.

Thanks to Wayne Boucher and Linda Russell and for their inputs to this page. For more on telework and disasters click here. For a related point of view visit an April 21, 2006 article by the Chairman of Reuters.

* Sources: World Health Organization; Michael T. Osterholm, University of Minnesota; Rebecca F. Grais, J. Hugh Ellis, Gregory E. Glass, Johns Hopkins University

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Last modified: Wednesday March 5, 2014.

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