Australia’s biggest telcom, Telstra Corp, has ordered 20,000 staff to work from home because of COVID-19 – and that’s just been the start as the virus strengthens its grip around the world.
It’s not a difficult workspace management technology for companies that have agile working policies in place.
But what if your organization isn’t set up agile working? What should you do?
As providers of workspace management technology, we’ve been focusing on this healthy and productive way of working for many years – and we’ve compiled our 5 best tips for success.
1. Don’t panic. Virtual communicating has become a big part of our daily lives (shopping, Facebook, twitter, helping with homework…) so moving to digital working from home is psychologically fairly simple.
It’s not quite business as usual, but it’s definitely do-able.
2. Assess practicalities. What devices will your staff use while working at home? Do they have the functionality and bandwidth they require? Will some of them need to borrow equipment or get software updates? Decide your needs and run an audit.
3. Be secure. Not only human beings get viruses. If you don’t have solid protection for your key networks, they could be badly damaged by homeworkers perhaps accessing them via their own devices or unencrypted memory sticks.
Set up robust protocols and secure practices straight away, and make sure every member of your staff is warned about how important it is to adhere to them.
4. Think wellbeing. Encourage everyone to be coronavirus-aware, of course, but recognize that working from home can also seem isolating and lonely. Use collaborative tools such as Skype to bring workers together virtually, and also let them chat.
Your managers will need to catch up with each person at least once a day informally, but you should also establish a formal process for communicating important info – use video or audio conferencing, emails, intranet posts and newsletters.
5. Monitor productivity. Many people find that working from home actually boosts their productivity, but some will fall prey to distraction (or be simply keen to loaf).
Deal with this by setting clear, realistic deadlines for projects they are working on, and monitor the outcomes.
Meanwhile, back at the office…
COVID-19 is taking a tough toll on human life and global economies.
But as locked-down cities and countries do their utmost to carry on, it’s also creating a fresh opportunity to think deeply about how we use technology.
In China and the UK, for example, universities and schools are teaching online; even judo lessons are going ahead via Skype.
But if you still need your workers to come along to the office – not all jobs can be done remotely – there are still ways you can protect them.
Don’t allow them to travel to badly affected areas, of course, and cut down travel even closer to home. If you have video or audio conferencing, make sure you encourage people to use them as much as possible.
Tips for safety in the workplace
- All ill employees should stay away from the workplace.
- Encourage good respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene.
- Clean commonly touched surfaces regularly.
- Appoint a leader in your workplace to support your staff, and share ideas that will work in the company, such as encouraging the use of hand gels.
- Establish an infectious disease outbreak response plan and be ready to deal with your staff’s anxiety and any misinformation.
The unexpected effect of coronavirus?
We don’t know how long the crisis will last, or even how it will play out as we go along.
But one thing’s for certain. In dealing with COVID-19 and finding practical ways to keep the wheels of business turning, we are learning valuable lessons globally about how we work.
In Japan, hardworked ‘salarymen’, who work long hours, are discovering unexpected benefits from being banned from their offices and spending more time at home with their families.
As one told a newspaper: “I feel less stressed from not having to travel in a jam-packed train. I save time from not commuting so I can work an hour longer, and also have time for myself.” That says it all about agile working.
Could coronavirus, once it’s crushed, actually usher in a whole new world of agile working? We really hope so – and in the meantime, please do your utmost to be safe.
* Learn more about agile working and workplace management technology.