Businesses in all industries are flocking to respond to the global outbreak of COVID-19. Many are posing the solution of teleworking. While working from home is excellent for social distancing – keeping people apart to prevent infection – and preventing the spread of the novel Coronavirus. However, there are some risks and challenges involved in this approach.
The good news is that general US surveys find that a third of people are confident in the plan set out by their workplace in the wake of the virus. Less good, however, is the nearly 45% who say that, although their workplace has some sort of basic plan, they have little or no confidence in its application due to haste. However, overall, the general response has been positive, with a focus on customer and employee health.
In all cases, the plans focus on keeping people from getting infected and from spreading the virus – canceling large meetings and gatherings, limiting travel (particularly public transport), promoting social distancing, and other such options. Of the plans currently in place:
- More than 40% of workplaces have reportedly altered their travel policies.
- Online meetings have risen by over 30%.
- Just under 30% are implementing work from home policies or altering existing systems.
- More than 15% are moving sales meetings and presentations to online video exchange.
It’s a scary time filled with uncertainties, and people are looking to their employers for reassurance not just about the virus but about their financial and insurance security too. In many workplaces, the quick forging and implementation of action plans have had a reassuring effect on employees and helped guide them in a direction without giving in to hopelessness.
However, there are struggles, too. Many believe that the sudden switch to distance working will damage long-run productivity for their company or even their industry. More than 20% of respondents are very concerned about the rigidity and teamwork skills of other staff members when it comes to working and collaborating from home. A similar number expressed doubts about their management, questioning whether managers have adequate preparation for such a switch or capable of using their management techniques remotely.
Whatever the reason, a significant majority, around 65% of people, is confident that the outbreak will have a long-term effect on how their company operates.
Work-life and personal life are all affected, suddenly and dramatically, and it can be hard to know in which direction to turn. Mistakes will happen, but the main focus should be on finding these little cracks and sealing them before they can become real damage.
There is help available, too. Not all companies have the tools readily available to work remotely or an action plan on how to do so. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and other medical and employment groups are offering free advice for employers and employees alike in this challenging time.
In conclusion, try not to panic. A rapid switch to a new routine can feel like the end of the world, but if you remain mindful of the positives and potential downfalls of your company’s approach, there is always a way forward.