Working in the face of disaster (Remembering September 11th and Katrina)

So my first major paper that is due for my MBA program at UNO (University of New Orleans) is on Telecommuting. And something that has popped up more than once is how telework (AKA telecommuting) allows businesses to function during crisis, and natural disaster situations. This is particularly of interest to companies in New Orleans, where I live now. Many businesses had to close during Hurricane Isaac the week before Isaac. And even those businesses who are not retail dependent where forced to close during Katrina, in most cases for several months, if not indefinitely.

Something I found in my research is “The Status of Telework in the Federal Government”; an annual report on telework among government agencies. The first one was in 2002, and therefore reflects data from 2001. And the only thing it discusses in its background besides how it fulfills a bunch of different bills and laws of section this of bill such and such, is “Post-Disaster Response” and this is what that section says:

“In the aftermath of September 11, telework has become an option of necessity for many employees and employers. Displaced workers in the New York area and at the Pentagon were left without offices. Road closings and increased security precautions exacerbated already severe traffic congestion. As a result, many federal managers began to take a fresh look at telework arrangements.”

Businesses have the ability to be more agile than ever before. They have the responsibility to be. I’m not saying that businesses should turn on a dime. But in the face of adversity, rather than slowing down you need to be able to speed up. I was hardly adversely affected by Isaac, but because of the storm I couldn’t be busier. If you or your business is not agile then perhaps this recession is your ice age. And I believe that it will drive more companies to extinction before it’s over.