It’s that time again

To all of you who have actually gone out into the crowds in search of holiday bargains here’s a thought: your exposure to a carrier of Swine Flu has probably at least doubled. The chances that you’re able to be vaccinated against SF, in case you haven’t already received the shot, are less than planned by the government, because of production delays. Also there are shortages of  Tamiflu, according to the media. Furthermore, we are closing in on what is normally the peak season for flu, at least in the northern hemisphere. Also, SF appears to prefer young children and working age folks rather than the elderly. The clear implication of these factoids?

Swine flu may be a growing possibility in your working household. What to do?

You could, like some of our friends, ignore the whole thing and refuse to get H1N1 vaccinations for yourself and/or your kids on the theory that all your other acquaintances will have received vaccinations; therefore no infected person will ever come near you. This is similar to a case of Mad Russian roulette, involving a revolver with only one bulletless chamber. You may win but don’t ask me to bet on it.

However, if you’re an information worker there is a possibility that is close to that of our refusenik friends: telecommuting. Work from home. Avoid daily contact with your fellow, possibly infected, co-workers. Interact with them via the phone or Internet. Get your work done with amazing alacrity, strain free. Do your shopping on line. If your kids come down with the flu anyway, at least you’re there to tend to them—and you won’t be infecting your office mates. Unlike those callous co-workers who show up at the office even though they’re clearly flu-ridden.

Think, too, of the other heroic possibilities of the season. When those pesky blizzards, floods, and other features of winter come calling you’ll be able to press on when the rest of your colleagues are out of commission, like the intrepid telecommuters of the California Public Utilities Commission after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Their downtown San Francisco offices were trashed but they kept right on working from home.

Then there are the cost-benefit factors. Our analyses consistently show that properly prepared telecommuters are at least as effective as their in-office colleagues. therefore, even though you’re at home you’ll be contributing as much as they.

Suppose, now, that one or more of your in-office colleagues comes down with the flu and soldiers on, liberally spreading viruses among the others in the office. The infected ones are probably not working up to peak; their colleagues’ chances of also becoming flu-ridden have just materially increased; productivity is likely to wane; the future of the company could totter were it not for your continued support. From home.

You should get a raise!

Telecommuting: the best protection against infection!

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