Coronavirus | 6 Elements To Minimize Its Impact On Your Business
With the rapid spike in the outbreak of the coronavirus ( COVID -19 ), many aspects of daily and work life have been affected. This has had a direct impact in the way business is carried out. Face to face meetings are being frequently canceled with online meetings, call and email now becoming the preferred mode of communication. Many companies have shut factories, offices and major industry events like Facebook’s F8, the Geneva Motor Show, Google I/O and Mobile World Congress continue to be called off because of the outbreak.
We understand that with increased growth and coverage of the virus, many questions have arisen.
How to prepare? How can keep employees be kept safe? How can impact on business be minimized? How can continuity of business be ensured at this time of uncertainty?
Below we have listed 6 elements we believe can be added to your organisation to help minimize the impact of the virus on your business. Note that all 6 elements are interlinked and work best when they are combined.
1. Preparation + Policy = Success
Great preparation is the key component of every good plan. During times of crisis, your organisation should look to its emergency/ disaster policies and guidelines. If your organisation does not currently have any of these policies, you should create them today!
What should be included in your policies?
Safety first rule:
- Any individual who has any flu-like symptoms (regardless of them having the virus or being in contact with someone with the virus) should immediately let their supervisor know and stay home.
- Personal health recommendations should be followed from standard reputable sources such as The Department of Health programs.
- They must require a medical certificate showing that they do not have the virus to be allowed back into work.
- Make sure that all staff are aware of the safety regulations such as washing their hands and no shaking hands. These must be enforced.
Communication also needs to be at the forefront. Being able to effectively communicate and having a unified understanding of the current status, steps, procedures and action plans for the ever-evolving event is crucial for stability during this time.
- Email, video call and messaging services should be available to all staff.
- Work from home allowance and capabilities.
- If it’s not possible, the implementation of an A and B team to minimize the impact of the virus as they will take turns to work on site.
- Cloud-based or remote server access to files, projects, accounts, etc.
2. Flexible Working
To help slow down the spread of the virus, many organisations will find that they will soon be working from home or be made to stay at home for a quarantine period as we have seen in Italy. This could be a mandated request by the government or organisation and you need to be ready. Apple, Atlassian and Google are just a few major corporations that have facilitated the option and, in some cases, requested to work from home. Adopting this premise and making sure that there are right procedures in place to facilitate employees who opt to or need to work from home will minimize the internal impact on your staff, company and day to day business activities.
- Employees save time commuting from work and are able to dedicate more time to tackling their set work.
- There will be the distraction of home life.
- Lack of face to face communication will also present some issues for the standard 9-5 day.
How can the challenges be tackled?
- Project management tools (Refer to ‘Workflow’)
- Cloud-based software and services can be leveraged. (Refer to ‘Data Management’)
- Communication can be carried out via email. (Refer to ‘Communication’)
How can these employee needs be understood?
A consistent online communication, engagement, transparency, availability and accountability channel should be in place for all remote employees, so that everything still runs smoothly.
Transparency and visibility
This is crucial for you and your team. It will help lessen the physical divide and will help keep your team mindset synergized.
- Make sure each employee has access to a digital, always available workflow management tool. All staff, projects and tasks can be updated and assigned without the need for excel sheets or never-ending update emails!
- Convert standard morning stand-ups to skype calls. Do no get rid of them completely!
Available tools: Zoho Sprints, Jira, Trello, Monday.com, ClickUp
4. Data Management
Files, on files on files! Working remotely means you will need access to data, files or the ability to transfer files of all sizes easily and quickly. These important files should be accessible to all team members, regardless of location. This will ensure that projects run on time and productivity is not affected.
- Be sure to backup or copy all important files onto a remotely accessible shared drive either on your server or cloud-based file hosting platform.
- Start working and accessing files so if you are suddenly made to work from home, you will already be up to date and no files will be left behind.
Available tools: Zoho Work Drive, Dropbox, Google Drive
5. Communication is key!
The above-mentioned points will work smoothly if your means of communication are in place.
How can communication be hindered when working remotely?
- Forgetting to share important information to staff members.
- Feeling like you can’t ask for help.
- Feeling disengaged or left out.
How can this be tackled?
It is very important to encourage consistent communications. This is not only for work items, but your standard office banter or social media interactions. Keeping all employees feeling valued and part of the team is incredibly important when working remotely.
Email is the standard form of office communication. Send out group news/updates emails to make sure no important information is missed by staff members. Adapting messaging services, live chats and video calls is a wonderful way to bridge that communication gap in a more natural, free-flowing way. We are all working towards the same goal and its always great to see that being communicated with your team.
Available tools: Slack, HipChat, Facebook workplace, Zoho Cliq
Create a strong online culture where communication, feedback, criticism and rewards are in place.
How can a strong online culture be created?
- Engage in consistent messaging with the team and listen to the team.
- Take and pass on notes to adapt to the needs of the project.
- Take the time to have a phone call with individual team members to check up on progress and to check if they are having any difficulties.
Taking these elements on board is a big step in making sure your organisation is prepared and ready to adapt to the needs of tomorrow.