Working From Home: How Your Business Can Survive the Coronavirus (Covid-19) Onslaught
The coronavirus outbreak has taken us by surprise — shutting down manufacturing facilities, causing widespread panic, and hammering financial markets. As the virus continues to spread, unchecked, around the world, businesses — big and small — are scrambling to keep their organizations afloat.
In a statement released by Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, the company will be closing all its stores outside China to protect its employees and customers from the deadly virus.
“What we’ve learned together has helped us all develop the best practices that are assisting enormously in our global response. One of those lessons is that the most effective way to minimize the risk of the virus’s transmission is to reduce density and maximize social distance. As rates of new infections continue to grow in other places, we’re taking additional steps to protect our team members and customers.”
Sage asked all UK-based colleagues to work from home as soon as they can and until further notice.
“If you have the ability to work from home, please do so as soon as possible. You can collect your laptop, desktop equipment and peripherals (charging cable, headset etc) from the office if needed. If you are not yet an enabled home worker (ie some desktop users), we aim to have you working from home by the end of the day on Wednesday 18 March. Further communications will follow tonight on the details of this process.”
Twitter, on the other hand, makes work from home mandatory for all their employees globally.
“Our top priority remains the health and safety of our Tweeps, and we also have a responsibility to support our communities, those who are vulnerable, and the healthcare providers who are on the front lines of this pandemic. To continue this push, we are moving beyond our earlier guidance of “strongly encouraging work from home” provided on March 2 and have now informed all employees globally they must work from home.”
But these are big companies with deep pockets and a lot of resources. How about you, a small or medium enterprise owner? How can your business survive the coronavirus onslaught?
Make work from home a priority
If you have not yet considered the idea of your employees working in the comfort of their homes, now is the best time to do it. And you must act fast. Implement a work from home policy that covers when your employees are expected to be online, how to communicate, and what deliverables are expected from each team member.
Jeff Corder, VP Loss Control at AmTrust Financial Services:
“Moving work from an office environment to telecommuting is an important step in reducing the impact of a potential pandemic. However, it is an adjustment for those who have not telecommuted before and can be stressful. Planning and communication are vital.”
How CakeHR can Help You Manage Your Business during the Coronavirus Crisis
👍 Storing your data in the cloud
CakeHR is a cloud-based software. This means that all your employee data are stored in the cloud and not in a device or computer in your office. You and your employees can access important information like shift schedules, time-offs, leave requests, and timesheets anywhere using any device — as long as you have an internet connection.
👍 Creating employee shifts and schedules
Facing a pandemic like coronavirus is very stressful. Employees are worried about their health, safety, and even food security. There’s a lot of uncertainty around and people are living in fear. All these will affect your employees’ ability to work productively. Hence, the need to manage their shifts and schedules effectively to maximise work.
CakeHR provides you with an interactive shift planning platform that lets you create, edit, and share shift schedules with a click of a button. Using our platform’s self-service feature, your employees can add their preferred work schedule or indicate if they are not available to work for the day. This helps managers plan shifts accordingly.
Employee shifts and schedules can be accessed anytime using a laptop or a mobile device. Everything is updated in real-time so everybody knows what’s up in a moment’s notice.
👍 Tracking employee time
One of the major challenges in remote working is tracking the time an employee spent working. CakeHR provides you with a digital timesheet where your employee can record the amount of time he has spent on a project. This timesheet, which serves as a basis for computing employee salary, can then be integrated with your in-house or external payroll system.
If your employee is away, the timesheets will automatically show this.
👍 Managing sick leaves, vacation leaves, and compassionate leaves
During a crisis, some employees will choose to spend time with their family and get their house in order before everything gets too late. Some may travel to their home cities or provinces. While there are others just want to take a break and let the gravity of the situation the world is facing sink in.
Don’t be surprised if your HR department will be flooded with leave requests. So, how will you manage everything?
CakeHR allows you to handle leave requests digitally. Using our self-service feature, employees in your company can access their leave balances and request time off. Managers can then approve or reject these requests in real-time using Slack, email, or the CakeHR mobile app.
Each approved time-off request is reflected in a shared calendar that can help managers plan shifts and schedules effectively.
Additionally, you can build custom time-off policies into CakeHR to cover compassionate leaves.
Tips on How to Successfully Run Your Business Remotely
Paul Boag, a leader in Digital Strategy and User Experience Design:
“Remote working is becoming an industry standard, especially among digital workers. However, many organisations are afraid of this departure from traditional working practices and are unsure how to manage it effectively.”
How prepared are you to manage remote teams? Below are some tips on how to manage remote teams effectively.
1️⃣ Communicate often, but don’t micromanage
Too little contact can throw remote workers off the track. While too much contact makes them think that you are spying on them. You need to find the sweet spot when it comes to communicating with your remote team.
Short, daily check-ins are great to keep everyone focused and so that you know what resources your team needs from you. I recommend doing this face-to-face using video. Emails, chats, and phone calls can only go so far. You can use apps like Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype.
2️⃣ Take advantage of technology to keep your team connected
Email is old school and is not enough for modern, fast-paced teams. Communications tools like Microsoft Teams and Slack are designed to keep remote employees engaged. Its centralized nature makes collaboration and communication easy.
3️⃣ Collaborate on documents effectively
If there’s a document or spreadsheet that your team needs to edit frequently, the best way to share it is through Google Drive. If you are looking for a reliable file storage solution, try Dropbox.
4️⃣ Use project management systems
These applications help manage remote teams because they help organize conversations and documents into projects. Running your remote team purely on email can quickly become a disorganized mess. Here’s a list of the best project management systems you can find online.
5️⃣ Allow flexibility without sacrificing quality
Remote workers will want some flexibility in their work. And you must be considerate especially in this current environment. A lot is going on today — although that’s not an excuse for not getting things done, it’s a wakeup call to consider what productivity means.
In remote working, punching a time clock after 8 hours is not the norm. A 9-5 work schedule is almost non-existent. So, learn to trust your team. Set expectations, give them the resources they need, and then step out of the way. Let them work on hours they think they are most productive.
6️⃣ Use a secure connection
Data security is a major concern for companies shifting into telecommuting. As part of your work from home policy, make it mandatory for remote workers to have a secure Wi-Fi network and work with a reputable Virtual Private Network (VPN) service provider. VPNs keep your data safe as it travels on the internet by encrypting it.
7️⃣ Create a true “team feeling”
When remote working, it takes an extra effort to keep team members engaged and committed to the mission and vision of the company. It’s easy to feel left out. Work from home workers needs to feel that they are part of the organization.
Here’s are some ways on how you can make remote workers feel that they belong:
- Sharing the future vision of the organization
- Keeping your team informed about how the business is doing. Employees love to know what’s happening in the company. It helps them see where they fit in and makes them feel that they are contributing to a larger cause.
- Have non-work related communications. It’s important to build relationship and trust with your remote team members. Give them a phone call to ask how their family is doing. Send them a quick text just to say hi. Use videos as often as you can during team meetings.
- Send out gifts during birthdays or special occasions or as a token of appreciation for a job well done.
Like what we did in the past, I am confident that we can survive this coronavirus pandemic. If there is one lesson I can draw from our current predicament, it’s the fact that remote work has finally earned its place.
Today, working from home is no longer a trend, but a necessity. And I don’t see going away in the future. The way we work has changed. And CakeHR is here to help you manage your remote workers effectively.
There is a subtle difference between a good and great HR management software. Know how we deliver nothing but “Great” by starting your 14-day free trial at CakeHR!