As the fallout from the spread of the coronavirus continues to impact businesses throughout the world, domestic businesses in Ireland were shaken up this week as large multinational headquartered in Ireland such as Google, Microsoft and Twitter told their staff to work from home. Even our own international sensation Penney’s (Primark) have told staff at their Dublin HQ and UK head office in Reading to work from home.
But even if the virus doesn’t impact your business directly by staff becoming infected, we live in a connected world where colleagues may have to self-isolate due to schools or social spaces being impacted or even from sharing public transport with someone who may have returned from a hotspot like Italy or Korea.
So, what can be done in the short-term to enable your business to work from home and if you do have to work from home what’s best for you?
From a business point of view you need to ensure continuity, yes there are functions like warehouse or customer facing that cannot function without staff on the ground but even in those situations you can mitigate the impact that something like COVID 19 - or the threat of it - can have on a business.
- Be prepared: as set out before in this blog, make sure you have a plan ready – just like with a fire drill you never know when something may happen so it’s best to have a plan for all eventualities
- Be Tech savvy: your business may be impacted by people taking leave of absence for two weeks to self-isolate - if they are not unwell, calls can flow as normal via the flexibility of a hosted PBX (routing can be changed remotely even if the IT/telecoms team are offsite), Microsoft teams integrations allow you to work and share projects and conversations via shared spaces as well as collaborate on MS Office files, whilst Google suite allows you to share G-Suite documents, spreadsheets and Gmail keeps the emails coming
- Even if you’re late to the scene with hosted systems, we at IP Telecom have turned around sites with a full install of our hosted phone system in under 72 hours – so it can be done, and your business calls will keep flowing no matter where your staff are located.
- Be flexible: if your office building is on shutdown and you are healthy, why not try remote working via a shared office space rather than working from home. We in IP Telecom tried this recently and you can read about it here.
Why risk your chance of getting infected when you can self-isolate and be productive?
And how should you work from home if you’ve never done so before?
- Be ready: Make sure your tech is up to it and make sure you have your at home workspace ready
- Be aware of you: We are all social animals so make sure you leave the house and engage in face to face contact (unless you’re on quarantine of course). A walk in the fresh air or a trip to the shop is restorative. Engage in some video calls as well so long as your tech is up to it and schedule some time with colleagues, if everyone is remote working, they’ll be glad of the company too.
- Be aware of boundaries: Don’t get comfy on the sofa with Philip and Holly on in the background, your work rates will drop, and productivity goes out the window. On the converse don’t sit there at 10 at night trying to catch up on your productivity. Finish at the same time that you normally do and act as if you are going to work and going home as normal.
- Be aware of teamwork: If remote work is a new thing for your company then you have to unlearn the office environment and your team need to learn how to remote work. Work with your team to ensure that all productivity and boundaries are respected. If you’re a manager and you trust your team, then actually the work will happen as if you’re in the office. If you’re unsure, test the waters and check in, but as with most things trust is reciprocated, and the work is done.
- Consider an ongoing remote working policy, there’s times that we all need to be away from the office – and as companies we also need to consider the benefits that remote working brings to recruitment, the environment and worker well-being.
Just because a force-majeure has pushed people out of the office, the experience of remoting in and the benefits to you and your business in adapting to a more flexible way of working should become apparent.
Don’t forget, Sir Isaac Newton was once sent to work from home as Cambridge University was impacted by an outbreak of bubonic plague – whilst at home he saw an apple fall from a tree which gave him the inspiration to formulate the law of universal gravitation...
Written and uploaded from home by the author.