Working Remotely During a Public Health Crisis

Telecommuting Coronavirus - Heyden Communications

Adapting to Coronavirus Through Telecommuting

Take-Aways

  • Potential Productivity of Telecommuting
  • Learning Curve
  • Importance of Interconnectivity
  • Telecommuting Technologies
  • Follow Guidance from Health Officials and Leaders

Telecommuting for Health

With the Coronavirus (COVID-19) dominating the news and impacting every aspect of our personal and professional lives, health officials and leaders on all levels are stressing the importance of “social distancing” and limiting contact with groups or public gatherings, closing schools, and advising limited contact in the workforce.

Businesses are attempting to balance prioritizing the health and wellbeing of their employees, while ensuring employees can maintain their work, leading to a renewed attention and focus on telecommuting (or working remotely).

Remote work has been advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Telecommuting Adaptation Wave

Companies have already initiated telecommuting policies for parts of their workforce, including tech giants (Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Intel), telecom (Cox Communications), financial services (Discover), headquarters (Amazon, HP, PetSmart and U-Haul International), and many other industries and companies likely to join their ranks.

Nearly half of all companies are exploring and/or attempting to implement telecommuting to balance employee safety and health with while protecting the business and the employees’ jobs they provide, according to a Wilis Tower Watson Survey.

Learning Curve

While telecommuting, working remotely, or working from home (and in some instances co-working spaces) is not new, there is a renewed focus and short learning curve for companies to adapt to the rapidly evolving and fluid nature of the Coronavirus health crisis. Company policies, procedures, and security have to be factored, and employees will need guidance and training to ensure that they can perform their job productively. A recent polling indicates that 54% of Americans have never worked from home versus 41% who had, according to a Cheddar survey conducted in conjunction with YouGov.

Data protection, time management, work equipment, and software integration are just the foundations for an effective remote workforce. Certain industries, professions, and positions are better equipped to adapt to a remote workforce or have prior experience with employees working remotely. Companies must evolve quickly to adopt specific policies around the use of telecommuting technologies to ensure integration within the company’s ecosystem.

Telecommuting requires an employee to have the necessary environment and tools to be plugged in and ready to work. An effective remote workforce requires thoughtful intent on all levels, with company leadership establishing operating standards, management establishing the behavior, and individual employees integrating effective telecommuting into the company culture and discipline to separate their work from their home life and activities.

Technology and Telecommuting

Infrastructure (ISPs) and technology (both hardware and software) are key to telecommuting. Where employees are located factors into their access to reliable and consistent internet, fundamental to an interconnected virtual company.

An effective remote workforce needs employee collaboration and project management software. There are countless collaboration SaaS (Software as a Service) technologies that operate in the cloud (not locally installed on a remote employee’s computer) such as Slack, Trello, Basecamp, Microsoft teams and many others.

And many companies have already adopted and intercompany and intranet collaboration tools and platforms for their teams. The challenge becomes the policies, culture, and behavior surrounding collaboration technology established by companies with their employees as an effective virtual ecosystem.

To ensure a thoughtful, efficient, and effective telecommuting workforce, there are many implementation resources available to companies, not the least of these being collaboration software companies and experts with experience migrating a workforce to a virtual, remote infrastructure. Here are just a few quick references on the topic. And if you have any builds, please send them along!

Collaboration & Project Management Software Services

Follow Public Health Guidance

Disclaimer: Telecommuting aside, the reality is that we can not live in isolation, and should stay connected (virtually and otherwise) to our local health officials and leaders, the CDC and other public institutions providing guidance that we should follow.