I’m frustrated. To read the Chicago Tribune’s May 14th story (“City that works-from home”) on downtown companies’ preparations for the NATO summit, you’d think we were a little prairie town on the lake. We’re failing to embrace the obvious solution to congestion and security concerns – telecommuting!
Telecommuting is a strategy that has worked effectively for other cities when confronted with an event that threatened to close businesses down. London, for example, is already practicing telework as a key strategy for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
The article cites only two businesses that are encouraging telecommuting—Aon and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Where are the rest?
Not only is the article disappointing in its lack of examples, but the paper went on to highlight the number of businesses that will close and employees who will have to use PTO days.
NATO holds a meeting in Chicago and the best we can do is “develop plans to provide for employees if they become trapped in their workplaces,” as Brian Tishuk, executive director of ChicagoFIRST said. “There’s been an emphasis on being sure they can lock down a building.” Brian was describing the planning taken by major financial institutions and other companies to prepare for protests that will be held during the summit.
I can totally appreciate the concern of financial institutions that they may be the target of protests while the NATO Summit is held in Chicago. Understandably, bank tellers and managers (whose responsibility it is to handle retail banking transactions) can’t telework, but if you predict their safety to be at risk, then close the bank on Monday, May 21, the last day of the two-day summit.
Museums, restaurants and organizations like American Medical Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois will close their doors for at least part of the time that NATO protesters and road closings will be most prevalent.
But for everyone without a face-to-face customer service role, telework is the logical approach to maintaining productivity in the face of street closings, public transportation restrictions, and protests.
Telework should be part of every organization’s crisis management and business continuity plan. We had 11 months to plan for this event. This would have been a great time to test company systems. If we couldn’t get ready for this, I wonder…what will Chicago businesses do when something unexpected hits?
Life Meets Work