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Managing the Impact of Coronavirus in the Workplace

Coronavirus is big news. But for most people, it’s more likely to be affecting your working life than your health. We look at managing the impact of coronavirus in the workplace.

Coronavirus in the UK is so far affecting our working lives more than it’s affecting our health. With, so far, only a small number of reported cases in proportion to our population of 67 million people, the chances that you know someone who has been infected is low. But by comparison, a huge number of people have experienced disruption to their working lives because of it.

From cancelled business travel, through to self-isolation of people who have been in high-risk areas, and now to quarantine of people who simply show standard cold and flu symptoms, the impact to working life is far reaching.

As a secondary impact, the closure of schools and other childcare providers, means increasing numbers of working parents are struggling to make it into work.And this could be just the start. The Government anticipate that due to the highly contagious nature of this virus, we could have as many as 20% of the workforce off work at its peak.  It now falls to businesses to minimise this disruption. And it’s interesting to note that while Coronavirus has wiped millions of pounds from the UK stock market, one business has experienced a boost: Zoom video conferencing.

Yes video conferencing is racing into this battle with a shiny coat of armour and a promise to maintain as much ‘business as normal’ as possible for the thousands of people who will be working from home while we ride out this storm. These are our tips for making it work for you:

Keep People Working

As a business, your priority is to keep people working. Whilst ensuring the health and safety of your workers. So enabling working from home is the first priority. Once you’ve enabled access, login and file access, the next big thing is communication. And there is no better way to communicate than being face-to-face. Or in this case, video communication.

We like the FREE StarLeaf app which provides video calling, chat and screen sharing across any device, wherever you are, to one or many people. It’s simple to use. And it’s free. So people can just download and start using, without letting the threat of coronavirus hold anyone back. Just download it here.

Microsoft Teams

If you subscribe to Office 365 you already have a brilliant tool for remote (or office) collaboration: Microsoft Teams. Use this platform to collaborate via instant messaging, share files and to make video calls. It’s really simple, and makes great use of the tools you already have. Don’t forget you can combine Teams with additional hardware like cameras, speakers and displays to improve the quality of your video communication. Consider a full room system from Logitech or a meeting room solution from StarLeaf.

Try Tools You Know

If you don’t have Office 365, there are other free video calling platforms you can use. Some people might feel more comfortable starting with platforms that they are already familiar with, like Skype or Facetime. But bear in mind, these tools have limited functionality for business use. They may provide you with that first stepping stone to get people into the ‘video-mindset’ in the workplace though. Just being able to see each other will help to improve communication through the ability to read body language, facial expressions and ensuring people are paying attention on a call (and not writing emails or doodling in the background!)

Alternatively, if you’re happy to try something new like the StarLeaf app, you can help people to feel more confident on a video call with these tips!

Be prepared

Your first priority when managing the impact of coronavirus in the workplace is to keep people working. But in the medium to longer term you may want to consider how you can get the most from the video conferencing tools you’ve been using. Both during the outbreak and afterwards.  It might be about providing better webcams for home workers or setting up meeting rooms that can fully accommodate video meetings. Choose either flexible or permanent solutions for audio and visual to enable more professional meetings where everyone can be seen and heard.

Workplace Changes After Coronavirus

In a study last year, Gartner suggests that by 2024 60% of meetings will take place via video – as opposed to just 25% now. It is likely the impact of coronavirus on the workplace will encourage this growth to accelerate. As people are pushed into using video for communication and meetings, the benefits will become more widely appreciated. And the concerns that have held people back will become irrelevant. Importantly, those workers who may have been told previously that they cannot work from home before, will be able to demonstrate that it is possible. And demand increased opportunities for remote working than has previously been possible.

Like everyone, we hope that Coronavirus disappears as quickly as it appeared. But the legacy of its impact will remain with businesses for decades. Just like the SARS outbreak of 2003/4, it will make businesses reconsider their continuity planning. And if remote working and utilising video communication are not yet part of that strategy, they soon will be.

So get ahead of the curve. Assess your tools. And your people. And work out what action you need to take to ensure it’s ‘business as usual’, whatever the coronavirus or future challenges throw at you.

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