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January 16, 2006

Work at home or go abroad if bird flu hits

From the UK newspaper Sunday Telegraph: Work at home or go abroad if bird flu hits.

Companies are drawing up emergency plans to reduce or cope with the loss of one in four workers. One expert warned that some could see their entire staff wiped out by the virus.

Vodafone, Norwich Union and the accountancy firms PriceWaterhouseCoopers and KPMG say they would make arrangements for staff to work from home. Some workplace meetings would be replaced by video conference calls.

A senior executive for Vodafone, which employs more than 13,000 in Britain, said: "Bird flu is a real threat and we are taking it seriously. Working from home means that people will be at less risk from getting the virus and could play a crucial role in keeping our business going."

David Way, a national disaster adviser with the insurers Alexander Forbes, said that up to 70 per cent of staff already had the facilities to work away from the office.

Some large international companies will move operations and key staff abroad. Norwich Union plans to transfer claims calls to centres in India and Sri Lanka.

rely reassured by this display of British enterprise. What happens if some key computer-network people are sick when their systems crash? What happens if telecommuting workers fall ill from a quick trip to the grocer's? And what happens if the pandemic lives up to its name and erupts all over the planet? What price outsourcing then?

Posted by dymaxion at January 16, 2006 04:16 PM

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