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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Out of the flu: a famous deadly foe unlooked-for

Russia’s still reeling from the global economic meltdown and its aftermath, but another foe is already taking out domestic businesses. In 59 Russian regions accounting for more than 60% of this country’s population, flu and acute respiratory viral infections have topped the permissible maximum levels.

You may think that the above doesn’t belong here and the crisis and flu just can’t be compared. I disagree; both recessions and outbreaks of diseases are external factors that adversely affect the Russian economy.

Lots of my business partners have been frustrating me lately with plans derailed, promises undelivered and deadlines pushed back, explaining that their responsible staff were sick. It’s a delayed-action mine for thousands of businesses in Russia.

Unlike the economic recession that is typically not very easy to predict (but still requires preparations for), the outbreak of flu and other acute respiratory viral diseases always coincides with winter—a season one doesn’t have a tough time forecasting. Why didn’t most of Russian entities take preventive measures?

Vaccination is a measure but doesn’t work 100%. But why then not let staff work from home in a web-based mode? Well, it’s true that some employers disfavor any remote kind of operations as they fear employees might leak commercial secrets to outsiders. Here’s an important nuance, however. With a company’s ability to introduce one innovative solution after another, thus developing fast enough to always outperform competitors, will such a company ever need the very notion of ‘commercial secrets’ in the first place?


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