Swine Flu highlights the need for business continuity plans, says Aastra

Concerns about a possible swine flu epidemic have prompted some companies, such as Nokia, Samsung and Adidas, to impose temporary bans on nonessential international business travel whilst recent report by The Chartered Management Institute revealed that almost half (48 per cent) of organisations don’t have business continuity plans in place.

Business continuity plans are an essential way for organisations to prepare for unforeseen circumstances and events that may range from industrial action, to vandalism of company equipment and networks, extreme weather and even disease. Remote working technology, such as telephone and video conferencing equipment, can play a vital part in ensuring that companies are still able to operate. Organisations that have already realised this and invested in telephone and video conferencing equipment may be less affected by such circumstances than others, as many face-to-face meetings can now take place virtually instead or remote working can offer alternative solutions.

Mike Ballantine, Business Development Manager, Aastra said: “Swine flu concerns have driven some companies to reduce levels of business travel, but this needn’t affect operations. By building the support for virtual meetings into day-to-day business and contingency plans it means that taking these precautions won’t impact the bottom line. But organisations shouldn’t just consider remote meetings as part of their business continuity plans. Telephone and video conferencing can be used every day to reduce the cost of business travel and increase the productivity of employees who might be unable to work whilst travelling to and from meetings.”

“Firms are already warming up to remote and flexible working to lower real estate and energy costs, with the added benefit of improving morale and staff retention. Tools such as presence management, integrated mobility or collaborative solutions should also be considered for all ‘key workers’ to enable efficient remote working as part of a company’s business continuity plans. Weather conditions or strikes can have a dramatic effect on road traffic and public transport – and thus a huge cost for small and large businesses. Companies giving employees the tools to work remotely are also better positioned to face such situations and can maintain an active workforce in exceptional circumstances.”

Earlier this year Aastra announced key updates to its Virtual Presence (ViPr) video conferencing solution to provide additional security features in the form of Advanced Encryption Standard to encrypt all media streams and expand collaborative functionality through integration with Microsoft Live Meeting.