To date, Coronavirus has infected over 380,000 people and caused close to 16,000 deaths. Social Distancing is now mandatory in many countries and strongly recommended in others. As the days go by, the virus is spreading at a shocking rate and businesses, hospitals, schools, sports events, and governments are doing what it takes to prevent further spreading.
Staying at home is one of the safest ways to protect ourselves, but it’s not as easy as it seems, especially when it comes to working. Rather than commuting to the office, employers are either allowing or obligating their staff to telework. In China alone, millions of people are now working from home.
With telework comes another set of challenges. Companies can’t just let employees take home a laptop and continue as if they were in the office. The technological infrastructure has to be considered, so does the security and more so today, data compliance. Normally, an employee would sensitive information via a secure office network. Telework allows for working anywhere and from any device. This is great for productivity, but it does mean that other issues have had to be dealt with very quickly.
On the other hand, there are certain jobs that don’t permit telework, so another massive number of people who face unpaid leave or even temporary dismissal. These are confusing times and many of us feel that the rules and laws are constantly changing. It is necessary for employees to make sure they are keeping up with any emergency employment laws that come into place. Employers need to help in any way they can, and they can start by becoming more flexible.
Those who aren’t flexible and try to enforce attendance policies are going to discover that they are only creating more problems. Employees are already nervous and stressed, employers who can’t consider the needs of their employees are going to create an even more negative atmosphere in the office.
Below, you will find some of the most relevant data on the coronavirus and its effects on telework.
China Leading a Mass Experiment in Telework
China was the first to suffer the effects of coronavirus on a large scale. Tens of millions of people were put on lockdown and the only way forward was to experiment with mass telework. On a positive, the technology giants in China were able to demonstrate their sophisticated digital tools, in particular, the high-speed networks.
The Chinese culture, however, was not ready for the experiment. Many employees are proud of the long hours they work in the office and employers have found it hard to monitor productivity without the bosses keeping a close eye on the workers.
Telework in Europe
The coronavirus has hit Europe harder than in China. Many workers had to switch to remote work within just a couple of days’ notice. One company in London alone sent home 1,000 employees to work at home, so again, the number of people teleworking may well become millions. It certainly won’t be long before the U.S start imposing the same measures.
How Do You Go About Working from Home?
As mass telework is still a new concept, it will be some time before we see the results of extensive studies. One area we will see a lot of research on is communication, one of the biggest concerns of telework. Luckily, communication tools like Slack and Zoom have had the time to mature and so are ready for employees to set up large scale messaging and video conferences. Zoom, for example, has seen a larger increase in video conference users in the first three months of 2020 than in the entire year of 2019. Unfortunately, working from home etiquette has been left in our hands. When is it right to use emojis? When accustomed to sending messages with the kisses sign-off, it’s embarrassing when muscle memory causes us to do the same with our boss. Should the dog be in the background of your video conference?
What to Further Prevention Methods Should We Expect?
Schools across the globe have been closed but not in every country, other countries have closed, bars, restaurants, cinemas and all non-essential businesses. Travel restrictions are becoming more and more widespread and the worst affected areas are on lockdowns or at least self-isolation. But we are yet to see a global agreement on preventative methods.