Recent weeks have shown how valuable it is for a business to have a robust remote working plan in place. As the novel coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has spread and caused more disruption around the world, it’s becoming clear that one of the safest things a business can do is encourage employees to work from home if possible.

This protects employees from illness, limits the spread of the virus within the community, and helps the company continue essential business operations. But the benefits of remote working extend beyond rare global pandemics, such as COVID-19.

Economic impacts of seasonal flu

A robust remote working plan can also help a company navigate the disruptions caused by something as simple and commonplace as seasonal flu. Working from home might not be a viable full-time solution for your company but in times of crisis or peak illness it can be deployed temporarily on an as-needed basis.

The CDC estimates that in the United States alone, tens of millions of Americans get the flu each year. Most continue to go to work when they’re showing only mild symptoms, spreading the illness to coworkers. All in all, the CDC estimates this costs American businesses an average of 7 billion dollars annually in lost productivity.

With remote working in place, workers who start to feel ill can avoid the commute and the office without missing a beat and without spreading their illness to others.

This protects employees from illness, limits the spread of the virus within the community, and helps the company continue essential business operations. Click To Tweet

So while you might think a rare event such as the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t warrant investing heavily in remote working for your company, consider the advantages it offers for mitigating the bottom-line impact of something as common as the flu.

Essential remote working infrastructure

For some companies, the ability for employees to effectively work from home might simply mean having access to email. For most companies, however, normal business operations require more sophisticated tools and hardware.

In today’s hyper-digital world, large group meetings can be conducted virtually, with digital whiteboards and all. And cloud computing has made real-time collaboration on documents and spreadsheets easier than ever. In many cases, the tools needed to work from home are already being used on a daily basis in the office.

Outside of the office, in order to power these essential tools while working from home, employees will need a high bandwidth and low-latency internet connection. Without that, tools like video conferencing, VoIP phones, virtual networks, and cloud computing services will suffer from dropped connections, lag, and poor data syncing.

A fiber connection to the home with all required devices (computer, printer, and VoIP phone, for instance) connected to the network with high-speed Ethernet cables will create the most stable and reliable setup for remote workers. This will ensure video meetings are clear and smooth, and data syncs are fast and stable.

Companies that are serious about building a remote working infrastructure should consider investing in that sort of home internet connection for employees, especially for the most essential staff such as managers, directors, and the C-Suite. When put up against the economic impacts of the flu alone, this small investment in outside-the-box thinking could equal huge gains in annual productivity.