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How Coronavirus has forced Companies to consider Work-from-Home policy

by Felix Omondi

The devastating wave of the coronavirus, which has claimed at least 2,800 lives, has caused public panic not just in China where it has hit the most, but across the world. There are reports of deaths resulting from the virus in the US, Britain, and Nigeria became the first sub-Saharan African country to report coronavirus related death.

Should we Shut Down Public Systems and Wait It Out?

From a layman’s perspective, the coronavirus is exacerbated where many people come together at a common point. That includes the workplace, schools, parks, public transport, stadiums, and any place where a lot of people mingle with each other.

Thanks to modern and efficient transportation, there is now genuine concern about public health virtually across the globe. People half-way around the world from the epicenter of the coronavirus are beginning to be afraid of leaving their houses, taking their children to school, commuting in public transport.

One never knows where the person they meet across the street came from, or who they interacted with, and where the people they interacted with came from; it an ending chain reaction.

Coronavirus is shutting down the World’s Factory

We know China as the manufacturing powerhouse of the world, churning out all types of industrial, agricultural, and electronics products, among other things. That is thanks to its big population.

Right now, this population can not move about freely as they used to, and already companies in China are feeling the pinch of lack of workforce. As more and more reported, deaths of coronavirus and new infections are being announced.

This development has affected the economy not just in China, but the entire world, given the Chinese great export influence on the world market. As staff stay away from their workstations, companies are not churning out products for exports as they used to before.

Undoubtedly, the situation is bad for business, and already stock markets around the world are starting to see things turn for the worst. Some stocks are recording the worst performances in history.

Companies forced to adopt Remote Working

While remote working (working from home) has been gaining popularity in recent years. It has not quite become a trend. However, with the coronavirus outbreak, more and more companies are buying into the idea of letting their staff work remotely from the safety of their own homes.

This new arrangement will not only slow down the spread of the virus but will also mitigate losses companies are recording. Work that can be done remotely and does not require the staff to report to the office physically.

Companies have now been forced to consider this route as a viable option to mitigate losses caused by the current immobility of labor.

Just how viable is Remote Working in terms of Productivity?

If you are in HR and are thinking about what your staff member could be doing at home during working hours if they were working remotely. You might be picturing them in their pajamas, holding the PS4 dual-shock controller wasting bad guys on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

Well, that might be true, but let us not speak of conjectures but facts and figures shall we?

A research study report by Standford Professor of Economics Nicholas Bloom traced the performance of two groups of staff working at call centers in Ctrip, China’s largest travel company. The results were as follows:

13% performance increase – much of that was attributed to staff voluntarily working longer shifts because of fewer breaks and sick days.

Resignations plummeted by half

4% more calls per minute

Ctrip made $2,000 profit per staff working remotely

At this point, you might argue the stats above are nothing more than outliers. Well, there are more independent studies that corroborate the above findings.

Another survey done by CoSo Cloud found out that 77% of staff working remotely reported increased levels of productivity. While 52% said, they were less likely to take time off when working remotely.

Mitigate Coronavirus new infection through remote working

t is high time all stakeholders take decisive action to stop it. For employers, they need to enable work that can be done remotely by their staff from home.

Though understandably, that suggestion can only go as far. There are limitations to its full implementation as an organization is a collection of teamwork. It might be hard to keep the other staff morale up if they must continue reporting to work and jeopardizing their lives. While their other colleagues who were lucky enough to have job descriptions whose roles can be executed remotely continue earning a salary from the safety of their homes.

The best solution for the coronavirus will be a discovery of a cure or vaccine sooner rather than later. Nonetheless, it has given many companies the chance to mull over the remote working arrangement. 

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