Now that the COVID-19 outbreak has become a global pandemic, it has turned businesses into survival mode. Having a plan in place to ensure business can continue on as best as possible, despite the real and often scary disruptions we are facing every day, can be the difference between surviving or simply falling apart.
Whereas certain ways of working wouldn’t have been considered at one time, the changes that have happened to society have made it impossible for companies to not rethink how they go about their day to day business in an increasingly fluid, unpredictable time.
Many are left with the dilemma of how to continue selling their products and services in the current environment and as more and more organizations, businesses, and global leaders urge caution and take increasingly serious measures to halt the spread of the disease, companies are feeling the pinch.
Develop a COVID-19 task force
It’s crucial for businesses to be gathering relevant information for their employees and that they are making this accessible. Employees will need to be educated about the Coronavirus and how to avoid it where possible.
Assign employees to be part of a task force team to assess your organization’s coronavirus needs and risks. They can make the key decisions and communicate about the company’s situation with employees.
Accept the change
It’s worth realizing that this stage will take some acceptance within a company. It’s all an unprecedented change that few people will really be prepared for. Organizations can play a key role in helping their employees on this journey of ‘grief’ to being constructive.
Co-workers will want to feel as ‘normal’ as they can do and this is where technology can fill the void. If they can’t have a real coffee on their break time, then a virtual coffee is the kind of interaction that counts as much as the real thing.
Flexible working arrangements
If the business isn’t already an advocate for flexible working hours, then now is the time that employers need to be embracing changes and letting their workers do their role from home. The aim is to eliminate transmission of the virus wherever possible and by implementing working from home, the opportunity for transmission from person to person in the office is nil, not to mention the chances of passing anything on during the daily commute to the office.
Of course, the lockdown changes how an office is run entirely. Whereas once an office would be full of people clocking in and out in a controlled environment, it’s now also parents trying to juggle working from home with school closures, who might find themselves working through the night to get their job done on time. Meanwhile, workers without children find the boundaries between the personal and professional begin to slip – as their kitchen table is now where they earn a living, eat and socialize.
Keep up productivity
One aspect that businesses may worry about is being able to monitor productivity and engagement with their employees. It’s all very easy to do when you can simply look over and see your colleagues working away on their screens. When they’re away from the office and working from home, it can be hard to keep tabs on workers and perhaps trust that they are doing what is expected of them.
It’s important to keep up morale within a team that normally work side by side. Many people can work very efficiently at home and complete projects to their own timeframes, so do allow for this and ensure that everyone is kept in the loop and feels productive in their new environments – which may come with other distractions. Flexible working is not just the ability to work remotely, but the ability to determine one’s own routine and learn to make it conducive with their living space.
Provide suitable leave
The last thing a company would want is for an infected employee to turn up to work because they didn’t have enough paid time off left. That not only hurts the sick employee who has had to stress him/herself out to get to work, but also their colleagues, as well as everyone and everything they encounter and touch on the way.
Given the developments in technology today, there is a suite of solutions for companies to use such that meetings, discussions and day-to-day work can go on per normal.
For employees that are suspected of being sick, or start feeling ill during the day, particularly those that have been travelling, calling and notifying health authorities should be a priority. Fear mongering and forcing the employee into isolation, against their will, should be avoided at all costs, until advised by a medical authority.
Use technology in place of face to face contact
Ever since the pandemic and the lockdown, it’s been clear how well technology can work in place of normal face to face meetings.
Businesses and individuals should make the most of online software solutions to help maintain productivity, motivation, and engagement while working remotely.
Not everyone will be comfortable with the new set up though. For many, they will be accustomed to meeting in person and may not be so familiar with online etiquette. It shouldn’t take employees long to get the hang of virtual meetings though and it can help solidify a team.
Platforms that allow teams to collaborate and communicate effectively can when working from home. Laptops and mobiles need to be set up for employees to be able to use to access the appropriate resources for their roles. Meetings can be carried out over Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom, while real-time collaborations can be done using free platforms. There are so many options to use as well as employees being able to communicate through chat applications alongside email.
Embrace the change
Organizations should take time to realize the extent of what can be done online and actually celebrate what they are able to shift to online.
With many businesses now embracing the change and disruption to keep their operations moving forwards, it’s proving to also be a great opportunity to engage employees and help boost morale.