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7 ways technology can help maintain productivity when sickness hits the workforce.

Paul Weeden

Written by Paul Weeden

Founder & Managing Director at Foration. IT and technology fixer.

[fa icon="clock-o"] 4 May 2016 [fa icon="user"] Paul Weeden [fa icon="folder-open'] advice, productivity, technology, remote working, organisation, project management software

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that around 131 million working days are lost each year due to sickness absence. Meanwhile, a survey of CBI members shows that 72% of business owners report that sickness absence has a negative effect on performance and productivity.

When sickness strikes, the number one priority should be to prevent the situation escalating to a point where you are facing a business interruption scenario. Usually, this calls for a re-allocation of tasks and resources and might also involve drafting in extra, temporary manpower to cover the shortfall. The right technology can help you with all of this - and can also assist with easing employees back into work as early as possible.

To ensure you stay on track in the event of a severe bout of sickness, here are some areas to focus on…

Assess the likely impact of the absence

One or more key employees are going to be out of action for some time. The first thing to assess is the impact this will have on business activities. This is especially important if you are involved in project work, and from the outset, you will need to assess the impact the absence will have on your ability to present the next deliverables to clients - as well as on the completion date for the project as a whole.

There are many good reasons for investing in project management software - and the ability to deal with unexpected absence is one of them. With tools such as MS Project and Zoho Projects, you can easily configure tasks and milestones, run reports and see at a glance what impact the removal of a key team member will have on your ability to achieve your overall goals.

Re-allocate tasks with ease

You’ve assessed what the absent employee was responsible for. The next step is to do what you can to re-allocate those tasks to other members of the team. Again, project management software really comes into its own here, allowing you to grant access to key files to different employees seamlessly.

Allowing temporary workers to hit the ground running

You realise that you will need to call upon temps and/or outside consultants in order to meet your commitments. Where project files and other key documents are stored in the Cloud, it becomes easier to grant access to these remotely. This means temps do not necessarily have to be on-site - meaning that you can call on help from remote locations.

Enabling collaboration

With tools such as Office 365, all team members with access to files can work on them simultaneously, helping you to avoid versioning errors if it’s a case of ‘all hands on deck’ to cover the absentee’s work.

Making remote working a possibility

There could be situations where a staff member is not fit to make the journey to the office but can still work from home. If you have the means in place to support this - i.e. remote log-ins from portable devices, working from home becomes a possibility.

Easing the transition back into work

Employers are under a duty to take reasonable steps to ensure a smooth transition back into the workplace for sick employees. Remote working might form part of this process of ‘reasonable adjustment.

Keeping customers in the loop

Whether through a quick Skype call or perhaps a personalised email, tech is a vital component of keeping customers updated on rolling developments in the event of a sickness outbreak.


Paul Weeden

Written by Paul Weeden

Founder & Managing Director at Foration. IT and technology fixer.

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