As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to spread, governments and businesses alike are making necessary preparations. Across the world, many businesses have closed and employees are being asked to work from home.
Google has requested all of its almost 100,000 workers across 11 offices in the US and Canada to work from home. Italy has put in place a national lockdown, restricting the movement and activities of the country’s 60 million inhabitants. It’s likely that the UK will experience something similar in the coming weeks.
In the 2020 budget, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a £30bn package to boost the economy and help the country take the necessary measures to get through the coronavirus outbreak. This includes suspending business rates for many firms in England, extending sick pay and boosting NHS funding.
But what can you do to make sure your employees and your business are prepared? Creating a sound framework and implementing strong processes and controls will put your company and employees in the best position for handling any significant disruption to business operations that the COVID-19 could bring.
Managing a Remote Workforce and Staying Productive
Start Planning Now
Don’t wait until it happens to figure out that your team doesn't have the right tools to be able to work remotely. Evaluate what software, equipment, information and resources you’ll need in place to maintain your productivity.
Identify Key Personnel
Identify and appoint key personnel (and back-up personnel) to coordinate pandemic readiness activities. It’s also a good idea to identify back-up personnel for key functional stakeholders should they fall ill or be unable to execute responsibilities.
Develop a Communication Strategy
When you’re working from home, there’s no opportunity to walk over to your colleague’s desk to ask a quick question. If you don’t already have a procedure in place, here are some questions to consider:
- How will the company respond to various scenarios such as closure of sites, quarantine of areas or coworker(s) suspected or confirmed to be infected?
- What methods of communication will you use and for what?
- Will you have to hold remote meetings?
- How will the company send official updates on the status of operations and how will the company make an “all clear'' announcement for a potential return to standard processes?
Start the week or day with an agenda that can be constantly updated so everyone can refer back to it and keep on track. End the week with an update to make sure everyone is up-to-speed on the progress of a particular project. Managing expectations and setting clear deadlines will help make sure everyone keeps on top of them.
Equally, you’ll need a communication strategy with outside parties such as your clients, subcontractors and vendors. Keep open communication with your critical service providers and make sure you are aware of their plans to support your business during disruption. You may want to develop backup or alternative processes (e.g. manual or in-house) to ensure the continuation of your critical business operations.
Prepare Staff For Going Remote
Test and secure remote access for work-from-home situations. Make sure you use multi-factor password authentication and encryption. You can identify any issues with remote working in advance, by beginning to rotate staff to work from home on selected days of the week in anticipation.
You may need to source provisional laptops for some employees or require employees to carry their laptop home everyday in case of short notice quarantines and closures. Ensure employees understand how to access critical business systems as well as company and/or client information remotely. For example, make sure you have digital cloud files of any important paperwork that may need to be accessed so you can share access to documents when required.
Make sure you have all your key contact numbers and email addresses saved. It’s also important to make your schedule available to your colleagues and network, so they know your contactable hours.
Set Up a Dedicated Workspace
When working from home, the separation of work and personal life can become blurry. It’s important to carve out a dedicated workspace, whether it be a desk in a spare room or setting yourself up on the kitchen table.
Try and remove any distractions that might get in the way of you getting the job done. Turning off notifications can be a good start. Once you’re in the flow of work, it’s easy to keep on going and, before you know it, you’ve worked a 12 hour day. Set some boundaries, such as sticking to a strict clocking-off time.
How Okappy Can Help
Okappy is designed to streamline your communications and workforce management processes, and is one solution that could help reduce disruption to your business. With Okappy you can communicate with your network, send and receive jobs, manage your workforce remotely, run reports, and raise invoices - all on one platform. You can receive updates to job details as they happen and view all important documents needed for the work in one secure place. To learn more, request a call here.