Today the UK Government announced it’s ‘battle plan’ for tackling an outbreak of the coronavirus. Among the measures proposed is to encourage remote working. In fact Twitter has already told its employees to work from home to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Planning for Remote Working
Home working is not a new concept for many businesses. Many companies have already got procedures in place to allow employees to work from home. Indeed Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, has previously advocated home working and announced his own plans to live in Africa for part of the year.
The Advantages & Disadvantages of Remote Working
The benefits of remote working for employers and employees are well documented.
- Flexibility – working hours are managed according to the employees own schedule. For example, parents who need to do the school run, or developers who prefer to work late at night.
- Environmentally friendly – working from home negates the need to commute to an office.
- Reduced costs – with a home-based workforce, employers can reduce the amount of office space and other overheads.
There are also disadvantages:
- Lack of face to face interactions – with no central hub to meet at, there are less opportunities for colleagues to meet up in person.
- Security – businesses may end up paying more in cybersecurity or insurance due to the number of personal devices outside the office infrastructure.
- Work / life balance – some home based employees complain that they are unable to ‘switch off’ when at home as their accomodation doubles as their workspace.
Tools To Aid Remote Working
There are a wealth of applications that are designed to help businesses work collaboratively. Many businesses will already use such tools so the latest news will not required a drastic change in working practices. Some examples of such tools include:
- Shared inbox software is useful for allowing team members to view what their colleagues are working on and whether enquiries from customers are being answered.
- Instant messaging tools are great for team chatter that is usually conducted in the office.
- Call transcription software enables team members to both share conversations efficiently without the need to write contemporaneous notes. Remote working will also encourage people to pick up the phone.
- Project management and ‘to-do list’ tools allow teams to share work tasks. Teams can stay up to date on completed items and what is outstanding.
However, these solutions will be of no use to businesses that rely on physical attendance at a site, for example in the manufacturing industry. It is also of limited use in, for example, the care based professions.
Coronavirus has put the suitability and effectiveness of business continuity planning to the test. However, it will also create a lasting culture shift in the way in which businesses operate and this could be good thing.