Remote Collaboration Tools & Kleenex: Doctor's Orders for Productive Sick Days    

Published 11/9/2012


David Danto


Principal Consultant - AV / Multimedia / Video / UC,

Dimension Data


Director of Emerging Technology, IMCCA


Ugh, I have a cold. I'm not on my death bed with a serious illness. The consequences are not dire. It's just a cold. But still, ugh. My head hurts, my sinuses are clogged, I have a non-stop drippy nose -- you get the picture -- it's the whole package.

If I was a kid in school I'd ask my parents to let me stay home and spend the day in bed. Unfortunately, as adults with careers, clients, and responsibilities, we often don't have taking a day off as an available choice. There isn't a teacher that can postpone our deadlines or deliverables. But that's where today's collaboration tools come into play.


In today's fast-paced world, people typically feel they have no choice but to go to work sick. This, of course, makes for a miserable day for everyone. The person with the cold drags through the day, probably sharing the illness with co-workers, fellow commuters, and anyone unlucky enough to touch things after him or her. The illness not only reduces productivity for the person suffering through it, but it has a domino effect on the workplace as others get exposed to someone who "should have stayed in bed."

My cold has helped remind me that my collaboration tools can perform a valuable service in this case. When I work from my home office, I am able to avoid a number of the problems above. I can skip the commute, which is no fun when you're sick. I can keep the germs to myself, not exposing the rest of the workforce to my symptoms. Most importantly for me, I can rest and recover (or stay in bed) at the times that I do not have appointments, and just go to my desk at home for the few times I need to.

Now, before someone comments about how they don't want to be on video when they are under the weather, let me point out how much easier it is to just look presentable for a brief period on a video screen than it is to try and get yourself together for a day in the office. For this and other video circumstances, it's important to remember that our co-workers already know what we look like.

Appearing a little less put together on a day when we're not feeling well will clearly be perceived as dedication to the team -- not as a poor reflection of one's lack of neatness. And believe me, your co-workers will be forever grateful that you chose not to share your germs, as will your management, who will be much happier to have lost some of your productivity for one day instead of suffering a widespread wave of absences.

You may recall that in 2003, there was a great deal of concern about a SARS pandemic. We were frightened that a widespread virus would affect a huge number of people, decimating workforces and bringing business to a grinding halt.

Remote collaboration tools, including videoconferencing, were put forward as a potential response and solution, but at the time, the technology was neither mature enough nor widely available. That is not the case today. Today, people have access to very mature and effective collaboration tools. Working remotely is accepted as a "mainstream" activity by many more organizations. Working from home to prevent the spread of illness is now judged to be a good decision.

So, if it's all the same to you guys, I'm going back to bed. I think I can get in a decent two hour nap before my next meeting.



This blog was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions. It originally was published at UBM’s “The Video Enterprise” website that was closed down November 2012. Here is a link to the Google cache of the page with comments. I do not know how long Google keeps these pages.


David has over 30 years of experience providing problem solving leadership and innovation in media and unified communications technologies for various firms in the corporate, broadcasting and academic worlds including AT&T, Bloomberg LP, FNN, Morgan Stanley, NYU, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase. He recently joined Dimension Data as their Principal Consultant for the collaboration, multimedia, video and AV disciplines. He is also the IMCCA’s Director of Emerging Technology. David can be reached at or, he can be followed on Twitter @NJDavidD , and his full bio and other blogs and articles can be seen at