Boss’s Beware Survey Shows Commuters Won’t Be Travelling When Avian Flu Hits

In the build up to next week’s “Business Continuity Awareness WeekW which hosts Business Continuity Expo, it may surprise employers to know that 40% of their workforce won’t be turning-up for work if Avian Flu hits the UK, nor will they be travelling into work if there are rumours of an imminent terrorist attack. These are the findings of a street survey conducted amongst office workers at a range of London train stations carried out by the team behind Business Continuity Expo 2007 to gauge how crisis ready and aware companies are in the event of a disaster.

Although this news may concern many companies, a surprisingly small quarter of the people who would choose to stay at home could actually work remotely as long as their corporate network was able to survive a disaster. Companies will be delighted to find out that 48% of workers show a gutsy and stoic attitude to an imminent terrorist attack and said that “no matter what they’d still endeavour to travel to work”, with many showing this resolute approach even when they had the facilities to work from home! However, employers still need to look at what their critical mass of functionality is and question whether they could survive with half their workforce. It is clearly critical to consider what strategies and contingency plans they need to put in place in order to survive a possible pandemic or imminent terrorist attack.

Although Business Continuity experts have seen a huge u-turn in companies preparing for disasters with more business continuity plans being tested than ever before and the recent introduction of BS25999 a standard for Business Continuity making its mark on organisations, clearly these plans are not being communicated throughout the organization, as a quarter of people interviewed did not know who at work would inform them if a disaster struck and almost half of the respondents were not aware if their company had a business continuity plan in place.

If faced with a pandemic such as Avian Flu, 73% of employees believe their company should pay for an anti-viral vaccination or other drugs so that they can continue to work for their employer. If left to their own devices though, only 40% of people would pay “whatever it cost” to get an anti-viral, a third would only pay up to £50, 20% would pay between £100 and £500 and 10% would throw caution to the wind and would take their chances and wouldn’t pay for the anti-virals at any price!

It would seem from these findings that disaster planning or preparing for the “inevitable” doesn’t come naturally to companies as well as individuals with almost three quarters of people not yet “getting around” to writing a will!

Running alongside this survey, Business Continuity Expo have also conducted a poll online to find out whether people thought their companies would put staff or profits first in the event of a disaster. Possibly the survey attracted a high number of cynics or maybe realists as there was little between those believing their company would put staff before profits with 27% who believed that their company would put profits first in the event of a disaster, 28% said staff, 15% believed it was their companies reputation that came first, 15% felt it would be the customers, 9% believed their company ranked intellectual property as priority and 6% believed it would be physical collateral.

Richard Fitzhugh – Event Planning Manager for Business Continuity Expo and Conference said “As the organisers of Business Continuity Expo it’s obvious to us that there is a great deal of work going on behind the scenes by business continuity professionals who are working on producing valuable contingency plans, resilience and risk analysis and importantly testing these plans. However it would seem that these action plans are just not being communicated down to the average employee, although provided effective communication cascades are in place this should not be a great concern.

It's refreshing to see that the Blitz spirit still lives on amongst commuters with so many determined to do whatever necessary in the face of terrorism or an outbreak of Avian Flu. It is this determination by employees, and the sophisticated business continuity planning that responsible companies are putting in place that is promoting assurance in the UK as the business capital of the World. Widespread crises have become the stuff of 'When' not 'If', and it is heartening to see so many companies are investing in Business Continuity.”