The spread of coronavirus is now a global pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. As the number of people who have contracted the virus continues to rise, more employers are doing their part to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus and keep employees safe.
The idea of working remotely has seen consistent and steady growth over the last 20 years, and many experts believe the coronavirus pandemic may contribute to that growth as companies encourage (or require) their employees to work from home as a form of social distancing.
“Coronavirus is accelerating working from home, a trend that was already happening in many businesses and organizations," says Lynda Lowe, Group Marketing Director at Condeco Software—a flexible workspace technology company. "According to our Modern Workplace 2019 report 41% of employers now offer some form of remote working and we expect that figure to be even higher in our next report due to be released in April.
"New technology has enabled companies to offer employees this flexibility and that means that even in the midst of a global crisis businesses can carry on productively with limited impact in a secure and collaborative way. Threats to business come from many areas but those companies that are using technology to maximize their productivity already...will find it easier to ride out disruption.”
We recently spoke to Lynda about the importance of flexible workplace options and how employers can prepare for a crisis that might require employees to work for home.
Vault: The spread of Coronavirus has fueled widespread concern, even in places where the virus has yet to be confirmed. How early is too early to begin preparing? What advice do you have, both for employers and employees, for taking preemptive steps to protect themselves?
Lynda Lowe: From a preventative measure, of course you should follow the guidelines provided and limit the risks of spreading the virus. There are things employers can do to prepare in advance for a scenario that individuals find themselves at home for a period of time, or if the feasibility of travelling into their place of work becomes limited. Employers need to ensure that teams are set up for remote working.
Employees should ensure they have the basics in place; for instance, a working laptop and smartphone, with access to reliable consistent WiFi. If you don’t have consistent WiFi at home, or if your WiFi is patchy, have a backup ‘office’ (library, coffee shop, Starbucks). This is less easy if you are self-isolating [Editor’s note: this makes it even more important for employers to ensure their employees are set up to work remotely].
Employers must make sure everyone has access to the same apps and technology—cloud-based integrated tools such as Dropbox, Teams, and Slack—to collaborate and meet online. Your team needs to be 100% productive and functional wherever they are, making apps and mobile integration essential for your workplace technology. A product that works wherever you are in the world is a must.
Vault: Working remotely is a rising trend, with more and more employers offering options for their employees to work from home. How is Coronavirus impacting that trend?
LL: Working flexibly—choosing the hours you work—and remote working were on the rise even before coronavirus forced some employers to send employees home.
A Condeco survey from 2019 showed that 41% of employers allowed their staff to work remotely and that’s likely to increase as employers strive to keep hold of talented staff that want flexibility. We may see this trend increasing over the coming weeks/months as more people request or are instructed to work from home to limit the spread of the virus.
Vault: Will the effect that the Coronavirus epidemic has on the number and frequency of people working from home have a lasting impact? How will Coronavirus shape the trajectory of the work from home movement?
LL: I think it could have a lasting impact as businesses and its employees witness the benefits of a more agile approach to work – and work/life balance, spending some time in the office and some time working from another location. Also, businesses who were perhaps not prepared or set-up for this style of operation will be under pressure to do so as it becomes more widely recognized.
Vault: What are some of the biggest challenges employers face in implementing systems that make working from home a feasible option?
LL: Employers not already on board with using Cloud technology could face some of the biggest challenges. As workplace technology has expanded, many businesses have found themselves encumbered with too many niche tools. The Cloud, however, offers huge opportunities for either integrating these tools so they work together, or for adopting newer, more multi-functional ones.
Fewer apps and tools will make it easier for your colleagues working from home. Ensuring there is still opportunity to collaborate and meet as a team is key for communication and feeling part of the company culture. This could mean offering online video platforms such as Microsoft Teams or desktop video, but also ensuring that when employees are in the office that they have access to the right meeting spaces and places to work productively.
Lynda is a product and marketing specialist with over 20 years’ experience. She has been at Condeco from the beginning, driving go-to market strategies, new business growth and evolving the brand worldwide. Her experience across both marketing and sales gives her a deep understanding of Condeco’s market and client’s needs, enabling her to develop powerful, effective marketing strategies.
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