Work from Home in a Coronavirus World!

Supply Chain Professional

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The spread of the Coronavirus has sent shock waves around the world. As of early March, 2020 there are over 100,000 cases and over 3000 deaths.

While the virus originated in China, where the majority of the cases are, there are now almost 100 countries declaring they have at least one case in their country.

Increasingly governments and companies are taking actions to shut down operations, cancel events, restrict travel and movement, quarantine people and more in order to mitigate exposure to and spreading of the virus.

Most important in this matter is the health and well being of all people. Secondarily the economic impact is enormous. Supply Chain disruption on this scale will impact everyone.

Given all of this people should be working from home wherever and whenever possible to reduce the chance of exposure to the Coronavirus. This is the future of work.

The Coronavirus Environment

The World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined steps that every person should take to prevent getting the Coronavirus:

  • Regular hand washing
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Covering your mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing
  • Avoid close contact (ie. less than 1 metre) with anyone showing signs of a respiratory illness (eg. coughing)

Given that people are regularly in close contact with each other in their personal lives, at work, while travelling or moving about, while attending events and performing activities, this step is the most disruptive and debilitating.

And rightly so. The rapid spread of the Coronavirus around the world has shown that it is indiscriminate in terms of who it infects, what they are doing, or where they live.

Countries are quarantining their own citizens. For instance, Italy has placed over 16 million people on lockdown. They are preventing travel in and out of northern Italy. Further they are closing schools and universities, and cancelling public events and gatherings. There is a very strong likelihood at this point that other countries could adopt these stringent measures.

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Airlines are cancelling flights, companies are shutting down manufacturing facilities, transportation of goods has slowed, sports and entertainment events are being cancelled (or held with no spectators in attendance), schools are being closed, and more.

In anticipation of further disruption people are reacting by stockpiling goods wherever possible. A recent visit to Costco found that people are stocking up on water, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other household essentials.

People are very clearly either sequestering themselves already or preparing to sequester themselves as the Coronavirus situation evolves.

Work From Home

Given the current reality of the Coronavirus, and given the need to avoid close contact and mitigate the spread of the virus, it makes sense to take all measures at this point to stay at home where possible. Until a cure is found we must all take steps to minimize close contact.

Despite the fact that so many different industries and company operations have been disrupted most people still have the need to work. There are many jobs (eg. manufacturing in China) which can’t be done while factories are closed, flights are grounded, ships are docked, schools are closed and facilities are shut.

However there are still many jobs which can, and need to, continue to be done, particularly white collar jobs. Typically employees would commute to their work location and perform their job at their workstation.

Given the latest directive to minimize close contact it makes sense that people should proactively look to work from home if possible instead of going into the office.

The tools exist to facilitate a dramatic, even if short term, increase in the number of employees working from home. Most white collar workers are working at a computer and attending meetings. With the provision of connectivity to work networks, the use of cell phones, and video call tools such as Zoom or Skype, many people can work from home.

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Additionally there are tools to keep people updated with the latest information, such as dialmycalls.com which allows organizations to easily provide mass notification to people via emails, text messages and phone calls. When more and more people do work from home it is increasingly important to have these communication lines open.

Certainly there can be disruptions to home life. And there can also be a challenge of discipline and motivation when doing “work” work when in your personal surroundings.

But for the sake of actively, and proactively, helping to curtail the impact of the Coronavirus on the world, short term measures to facilitate a work from home capability for employees will go a long way towards protecting our collective health and welfare!

Conclusion

At some point, which we hope is sooner rather than later, a cure or vaccine or other measure will be created to stop the Coronavirus. But until then let’s abide by the global, professional medical wisdom and take all steps to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus!

For those healthcare professionals who must go to hospitals, health care facilities and laboratories to help us all we are eternally grateful for your devotion, dedication, care and sacrifice.

For others, if you have to work consider every opportunity to work from home!

Originally published on March 10, 2020.
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