How long would your business survive if your employees were unable to come in to the office?
You can’t afford to wait to consider that question. The current rapid spread of a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the respiratory illness it causes, COVID-19, is likely to exert personnel pressures that many business owners and managers in Sioux Falls and across the country are unprepared to handle. Part of the answer lies in taking advantage of technology that allows your staff to work from home.
We often think of “business continuity” in the context of sudden environmental catastrophe. Natural disasters, weather events and other unexpected destruction can stop daily business operations dead in their tracks. In South Dakota, we're familiar with the havoc that tornadoes, wildfire and flooding can wreak on our homes and workplaces. But “keeping the lights on” isn’t only about restoring interrupted electricity or internet and spinning up network servers.
Employees need to be able to keep working. It’s increasingly likely that they’ll need to do so from their homes (at least temporarily) as COVID-19 gains purchase on the coastal US and moves inward to the Midwest. Between staff members developing their own symptoms or needing to stay home with their children during school or daycare closures, PTO days could be used up in the course of a few weeks while workloads pile up untouched at the office. Local, state, federal and international officials have already raised the likely necessity of “social distancing measures” to limit the rate of infection in communities that experience outbreaks.
“For adults, businesses can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said last week. “Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, communities, schools and everyday people to begin preparing.”
The CDC’s official advice is that “For employees who are able to telework, supervisors should encourage employees to telework instead of coming into the workplace until symptoms are completely resolved. Ensure that you have the information technology and infrastructure needed to support multiple employees who may be able to work from home.”
The good news? Nearly 75% of working Americans believe flexible workspaces to be the new “normal,” meaning your employees are primed to make the adjustment to remote work. And because 69% of businesses in the US have some kind of flexible workspace policy in place, a wide array of technology to facilitate a remote workforce is already available. Implementing those tools sooner than later will help your business ride out whatever the weeks and months ahead bring.