Coronavirus: Maintaining productivity in remote workplaces

If you’ve been anywhere near the internet, TV or a radio at any point in the last month, Covid-19 (Coronavirus) won’t have escaped your attention. Here isn’t the place to go into detail about symptoms, but suffice to say that you most certainly do not want to catch Coronavirus.

While self-isolation is the most powerful tool currently available to slow the spread of the virus, it has already had a massive impact on the global economy. The Mobile World Congress, the world’s biggest mobile phone show, was due to be held at the end of February in Barcelona but was abruptly cancelled over concerns of the continued spread of Coronavirus. Similarly, the Geneva Motor Show, an institution held every year since 1950, was cancelled after the Swiss government banned gatherings of more than 1000 people. Manufacturing in the Far East has also taken a hit as the virus has spread.



What can I do to minimise my business’s exposure?

As the BBC have reported, many of the biggest tech firms have taken the decision to close their offices. Twitter’s offices in Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea are shut, and the tech giant is “strongly encouraging” its entire global workforce to stay away from their office and instead work from home.

We think Twitter have got the right idea. Keeping a company open for business while the office is shut has only recently become possible, thanks to the advances in Cloud technology. Twitter is among the first and most public companies to implement this policy in response to Covid-19, but technologically they are hardly blazing a trail into the unknown. If you’ve read this blog before, you’ll know how keen we are on the idea of technology-enabled remote and mobile work.

Combining all your business communication tools into one platform, a Unified Communications system is the best way to virtualise your office and maintain productivity in a remote workplace. With apps available on all devices (iOS, Android, Windows and Mac), your staff will be able to log in to your office phone system from home without the need for any complex or expensive hardware. The responsive built-in presence panels show who’s available at a glance – ideal when you can’t look across the room like you normally would. Once you know your colleague is available, getting in touch with them is just as simple. At the press of a button you can voice call, video call or instant message anyone in your business, whether they’re isolating themselves at home or braving the office. File and screen sharing options complete the puzzle, allowing your staff to get quick opinions on work from their colleagues without resorting to email.

Remote desktops are another great productivity tool for off-site staff. The name is pretty self-explanatory; remote desktops let your staff log in directly to their work PC from home. With remote desktops in use, all files and applications are stored centrally. This allows your staff to log in to their work PCs from home, in much the same way that UC lets your staff log in to the office phone system from anywhere. Remote desktops are another step above simply hosting your files in the cloud, particularly if you have staff using premium or specialist software as part of their job role. With nothing more than a PC and an internet connection, your staff will be able to log in and pick straight up from where they left off the day before, promoting continued productivity while the office is closed.

The two tools combined really can virtualise your office; your staff can see who’s available, contact anyone they need to, and work on any outstanding projects from home, allowing for a truly flexible and mobile working environment.

The last thing we want is for you to think we’re trying to scare you; we’re not jumping on a bandwagon here. The spreading of Coronavirus does, however, give a perfect example of how logistical and organisational problems can be overcome with the intelligent application of technology. Our world is constantly shrinking; you can be on the other side of the planet in less than 24 hours now, so as we’ve seen recently local virus outbreaks can very quickly spiral into epidemics and cause a huge amount of disruption. With that in mind, it would seem prudent to give your staff options. Remote and flexible working policies are more than just a perk for employees; in extreme situations like the Coronavirus outbreak, they can be a lifeline for your business.

We really do hope you aren’t forced to close your office, but if you do choose to play it safe and ask your staff to stay home, it doesn’t have to mean work stops. Have a quick chat with our team and we’d be happy to demonstrate the technology to you.

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