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In Response to the Influx of COVID-19 Cases Throughout the United States, It’s Time to Embrace Working Remotely to Keep Your Team and Your Community Safe.
On December 31, 2019, Officials in Wuhan confirmed dozens of cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause. A short week later, the outbreak was identified to be a new coronavirus – now known as COVID-19. On March 11, 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) labeled coronavirus as a pandemic. The number of cases throughout the US and around the world continue to rise. Schools and daycares have shut down. Businesses and organizations not considered as ‘essential’ have closed their doors, hopefully temporarily. Organizations need to continue to plan their next moves – and fast. So, what’s next for those who want to keep their team and their communities safe?
What is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Why is Social Distancing Important?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that result in illness ranging from the common cold to severe acute respiratory syndrome. COVID-19 is a new strain discovered in 2019, and before discovery, the strain was not found in humans. Coronaviruses are easily transmitted between people and animals. Some common signs include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and breathing difficulties.
Social distancing plays an important role in slowing the spread of the virus because it’s transferred easily from one person to another. Even those who show mild symptoms can easily pass the virus via coughing or sneezing in the general vicinity of healthy individuals. Experts recommend maintaining a distance of at least six feet between individuals to limit the spread.
A remote workforce keeps your employees productive at home so there’s no need to go into the office. This ensures social distancing takes place while keeping your organization operational during this difficult time. There are considerations that must be kept in mind prior to embracing a remote workforce, including:
All employees will need a strong Internet connection coming into their homes. If they don’t have a strong Internet connection, they won’t be able to reliably connect to the office, regardless of what solutions are in place. You can opt to issue work smartphones and tether their phones to their desktop or laptop computers for connection, but this tends to be more expensive. They also need a home network that is secure, reliable, and cable of handling the increase in traffic, especially when multiple family members are involved.
All employees will need an up-to-date computer, whether it’s a laptop or desktop, to work from while they’re at home. If they have an antiquated computer, they will likely not be as productive as you’d like. It’s important to review each employee’s devices, and if needed, issue them devices that are safe and reliable.
Like the point above, it’s best to have a cloud-based phone system, such as VoIP business phones, in place to ensure they’re able to access their usual work line, voicemail, and various features while they’re at home. A VoIP system lets them make and receive calls over the Internet and keep in communication from their desk or smartphone.
The right cloud-based solutions will be necessary to ensure access to data, applications, and other resources while working from home. A technology partner should assist with the selection, implementation, and ongoing support for cloud solutions to ensure they’re the right choice for those with sensitive data to consider. Service like the GO Concepts Private Cloud help ensure you applications and data are secure and reliably available, and more importantly, they are specifically designed for organizations like yours.
As you take the above considerations into account, it’s time to start moving your employees to working remotely. Here is a checklist to ensure you’re prepared:
Nowadays, most jobs and/or tasks can be done from home. However, take a moment to consider what jobs and/or tasks specifically can be managed while outside of the office and write them down.
Your best bet is to have a conversation with each employee who will be working from home and have them send information regarding their computers, smart phones, and Internet connection over to you.
If you need to upgrade any devices and/or Internet packages, start doing so as soon as possible. For Internet connections, you may also choose to provide corporate-owned smartphones with data packages that can be tethered to computers.
Cybersecurity will be extra important as cybercriminals use the pandemic to entice unknowing victims into clicking on links or downloading information. It’s best to use a virtual private network (VPN) for all employees to connect remotely in a secure fashion.
Now more than ever before, cloud-based phone systems and collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams, will play a crucial role in your operations – enabling your team to work from home while still taking part in conference calls, video calls, file sharing and more.
You will want to provide some form of cybersecurity awareness and cloud productivity training to your staff members. Don’t assume they’ll figure it out. Give them some helpful resources to understand how to handle their responsibilities and stay productive.
A help desk support team that understands the specific needs of you and your staff should be available to your employees in the event of technology issues, questions or concerns. Typically, most of their work will be done remotely – troubleshooting issues and answering questions.
Your employees should still communicate on a regular basis with one another and with you. Decide on a communication protocol, such as morning/afternoon huddles, daily check-ins, and/or via email with one group video call each week.