oConomy
May 7, 2009 by James Waters

Thankfully, swine flu does not appear to be a repeat of the waves of influenza pandemics that swept across the world in the early parts of the 20th century. Still, as with other natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanic eruptions, there will eventually be another one. The businesses that thrive through the disaster will be those that are hardened against it. The easiest way to harden your business is to spread it out geographically.

With most natural disasters, simply not being there is enough. An earthquake in San Francisco, for instance, has little effect on an office in Chicago. Pandemics are different beasts entirely. They spread rapidly across continents and while they don't hit everywhere at once, they do hit everywhere eventually. The infamous 1918 influenza pandemic killed between 20 and 40 million people world wide, making it even deadlier than the entirety of the first World War.

Dispersing your operations gives your organization a flexibility to roll with these sorts of punches. It also gives you a wider talent pool to draw from and makes you less susceptible to regional economic fluctuations. Even if you're not facing down a plague more virulent than the Black Death, a dispersed organization is healthier, more flexible, and more robust.

The key to making this sort of thing work is communication. oDesk provides the tools to organize a scattered team and insure that everyone is working towards the same goal without wasting resources by duplicating the same effort in multiple places or working at cross purposes.

This opens up a wide array of options for companies. It means no longer being tied to the skills and labor pool of a single geographic location. It means having input from different regions and cultures. It means being able to organize and unify a far broader array of talents and aptitudes on the challenges facing your company.

And it means the next time the earth shakes or a visiting client sneezes, it doesn't have to be the end of the world.