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Pandemics and the Age of Telecommuting
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The recent spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a frightening reality not only for people living in China – where the pandemic originated – but all over the world. Pandemics are nothing new. In fact, they have affected mankind for centuries. Just consider the Spanish flu that tragically took so many lives early in the 19th century. But a pandemic in this day and age can have even more dire consequences. In fact, the unsettling truth is that COVID-19 is likely to be just one of any number of pandemics that the world is facing over the coming years. The reason is simple: We no longer live in a disconnected world. In fact, people can (and do) travel to any country around the globe on a regular basis, unknowingly carrying with them whatever type of virus they may have picked up on their travels. So it should come as no surprise that COVID-19 has spread so rapidly around the world.

While scientists work to find a vaccine for this coronavirus – a process that will undoubtedly take time – and governments work to minimize the negative effects of the pandemic, business owners and managers must deal with the day-to-day challenge of how to keep their businesses up and running in the midst of the crisis. Ensuring that commerce continues in as normal a fashion as possible is not only an urgent concern of employers and employees. As world markets have shown recently, a pandemic can have terrible impacts on the world economy.

Since the virus is now spreading throughout communities in countries around the world, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that we reduce our contact with other people as much as possible. And that involves companies allowing their employees to work remotely from home. If you are a business owner or manager, now is the time to prepare your workers for telecommuting, including the following:

  • Make the change to an IP (Internet) phone system. This will allow your employees to take their phones home with them, so that they can keep their same extensions and conduct business over the phone much the same as they would in an office environment. Most IP phones require an Ethernet cable connection and do not support wireless. Make sure the locations where your employees will work have that connection.
  • Ensure that your organization supports remote desktop technology or cloud computing. This capability will not only be essential in times of pandemics and other emergencies; it’s also helpful on a regular basis for employees who need to occasionally work from home at night or over the weekend, for example.
  • Utilize a time measurement solution like MySammy to encourage your workers to be as productive as possible while working from home. It’s only human nature to “slack off” a bit when employees are asked to work in an unsupervised environment. But MySammy can help motivate them to keep focused on their work tasks, no matter where they might be working at the time.

We are all hopeful that the current COVID-19 pandemic will end soon. But in the meantime, it’s important to make the preparations you need to allow your employees to work from home. You’ll be doing your part not only to keep your own company up and running, but to help the economy remain healthy overall as well. But even after this pandemic is over, you will no doubt realize the many benefits of allowing your workers to telecommute – from lower overhead costs to benefitting the environment through lower commuting time to allowing your workers to have a healthier work-life balance. This pandemic may have one upside: it may allow you and your employees to reap the benefits of remote working, both now and in the future.

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