Organizations of all sizes have a growing number of traveling employees, some or many of whom travel overseas. IT should learn from the recent Icelandic volcanic eruption which resulted in many airport shutdowns across northern and central Europe for several days. Hundreds of thousands of traveling iWorkers were stranded, unable to reach their travel destination or even return home. The fortunate ones were those who’d been
equipped by IT with the tools needed to stay in contact with team members, and also with customers. To ensure that traveling employees stay productive even when travel is disrupted by natural or man-made events, take the following five emergency-preparedness measures:
1) Provide all traveling employees with laptops equipped with in-house or outsourced secure remote access and SSL and/or IPSec VPN connectivity. Also enable employees web access to email and other business applications via a personal or other computer or their smartphone.
2) Ensure the company directory is accessible off-line, and that it includes “Travel IT helpdesk” contact information for off-hours IT support. These listings should enable users to leave a voice mail or email message, which will be responded to immediately with an automated message indicating the expected response time and response media options.
3) Provide employees both virtual (provided with the email confirmation of each corporate travel booking) and a wallet card with the following “Travel Emergency” information: a) The procedure to access email and the VPN via the public Internet; b) One-stop contact phone number (toll-free, reversed charges and long-distance) with voice mail or unified messaging, and an email address to notify both IT and corporate services of an emergency travel interruption, and which also will notify meeting contacts entered on the employee’s calendar of a travel-related delay/need to reschedule.
4) Equip regular travelers with an international calling card – or reply to overseas Travel Emergency notifications with a virtual calling card and instructions on how to use it – in order to avoid international collect calls, mobile roaming and hotel long-distance call charges, which get very expensive very quickly.
5) Purchase travel-disruption insurance coverage during the next three months for all business air travel routing northern and central Europe, to be reviewed semi-monthly based on volcanic activity. Many firms typically forego premium travel insurance coverage for act-of-God and weather disruptions; calculate how much it could cost your firm for the average overseas traveler if they are stranded for three or more days – hotel, ground transportation, food, communications, etc.