Quora Answer: Is Your Business Prepared for Coronavirus?
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading across the world, and it's looking severe.
As the number of people infected with the COVID-19 virus rises, so does the risk of one of your employees catching it and infecting the rest of your team.
The UK Government has begun to advise thousands of people to self-isolate, and firms in London have already begun to ask employees to work from home as a precautionary measure against the virus. The oil giant, Chevron, asked 300 employees not to go into work to help cut down on the spread.
Employers have a duty of care to ensure there are minimal health risks to employees but how do we achieve this without a lot of people spending time watching Friends on Netflix, instead of working?
So, if the worst comes to the worst, and your business needs to 'self-isolate', here's how you can do it, whilst ensuring your employees remain effective at home.
Fewer Face-to-Face Meetings With Clients
The fewer people you see, the lower the chance you have of catching the virus. Simple maths.
So, physically meeting those business men and women who have been well travelled might not be the best idea - but that doesn't mean you can't meet them!
We live in 2020, a time when we don't even need to meet people face-to-face any more. Instead, it might be a better idea to have these meetings via a video conference, from the comfort of your kitchen. If anything, it can be better to do it this way.
Whilst talking, you can easily show them your screen without having to shuffle laptops around, and being unable to see for yourself. As long as you have a reliable Internet connection, and a webcam you're good to go!
Even just having a microphone can be good enough, as long as it's the same for both parties. And, as a bonus, you only have to tidy up what the camera is showing. Suit jackets and pyjama bottoms can even be a thing!
Visiting clients is a great way to build relationships, but like with the meetings, it might be a good idea to cut down for now. Instead, why not just pick up the phone to see how they're doing?
If anything, this can be more beneficial to you. Now you don't have to spend time going to the location, spending money on fuel, as well as picking up snacks for the road.
When your client has any requests, you might be able to do it straight away from your office, rather than waiting until you get back.
But don't let the virus be only reason you cut down on meeting your clients. By having over-the-phone/video conferences, you're cutting down on those costs we mentioned.
Not only is it better for the environment, but it's better for your wallet whilst saving you a lot of time.
Keep Your Distance
There aren't many better ways to spread a virus than having a load of people in a small space coughing all over each other.
If you can try space everyone out, then do it. Not only will you not have to smell someone's smelly lunch quite as much, but you've also got the freedom to not sneeze all over your desk neighbour.
Get VoIP Phones Before It's Too Late
When your employees aren't in the office, you still want them to make and take phone calls for your business as usual.
Investing in VoIP systems will allow them to do exactly this. Just make a few configurations, and all necessary phone calls will get redirected to them at home - a must-have for anyone working away from the office.
Be warned though - if you're going to invest in them, you should do it sooner rather than later.
If it does become a case of having to self-isolate, they'll all be gone before you even get a chance. Every business will need them, and these systems aren't usually supplied in large bulk. Just a few offices suddenly buying them will clear out a lot of stock.
As VoIP systems will be an essential to allow your employees to work from home effectively, demand will definitely exceed supply.
Get yours now.
Put a Halt to the Handshakes
You might know how to properly wash your hands, but does the person you're giving a handshake? We're not trying to scare you into never touching another human again, but let's have a think about the journey of the person you're shaking hands with:
- If they got public transport, think of all the surfaces they've touched on their way. Now think about how many other people have touched it.
- It's likely someone has coughed or sneezed - have they caught it, killed it, and binned it?
- Who else have they shaken hands with, and who has that person shaken with? It's not farfetched to suggest that down the line, someone has been in close contact with someone that has COVID-19.
Suddenly, a handshake doesn't seem so friendly...
Sanitize For Your Own Sanity!
If you haven't got the message that's being spread around faster than the virus itself, you need to keep your hands clean!
It's recommended that you wash your hands for 20 seconds, or sing "Happy Birthday" to yourself twice - the latter will definitely keep everyone else away, as you begin to look insane!
With everyone washing their hands more regularly than before, you'll need to stock up on dispensable soap and hand sanitizer.
Be careful where you buy it though, as some cheeky sellers have decided to cash in on the latest 'craze'.
£39.99 for 3 tiny bottles? No thanks, I think I'd rather get the virus...
And whilst I'm at it, how dare they only send by 2nd class?! Don't they know there's a world-wide panic going on? We need it NOW!
Amazon has been having none of it though, as they banned over 10,000 users who tried to hike the price up.
A quick shop around, or a visit to your local bargain store will provide you with a much more reasonable price!
Get Your Tissues Ready
Whilst you're at the shops, why not pick up some a few boxes of tissues?
We've all been guilty of sneezing into our hands and not cleaning them (not mentioning any names). Now there're no excuses for snot-covered desks and keyboards. Catch it, kill it, bin it.
Clean Your Keyboard
It might seem silly, but your keyboard is probably the dirtiest thing on your desk.
Every day you sit over it, typing away, as hairs, skin flakes, crumbs, dust and other bacteria fall in between the keys.
Now, to clean it, there are two ways - but it depends on how dedicated you are to the cause.
1. You could take off every key, clean each one, and then the board underneath it. This is definitely the best way, until you put the keys in the wrong place! And as they say: time is money.
2. The way I've done it. Get a good old can of compressed air and spray in-between the keys, give it a good shake, and see what comes out. Then after give it a wipe down with some anti-bacterial type wash.
TOP TIP: unplug your keyboard BEFORE you do either of these.
Don't Rely On One Person
Everyone has their own jobs that they take care of - but can someone else take their place if they're not there?
Ask yourself this question for every task your business does. If there's a job that only one person can do, you could be in trouble. What happens if they suddenly have to self-quarantine, and can't do their job?
Some small tasks you might be able to get away with and learn on the spot, but others, such as coding and web-design, you cannot.
Therefore, it's important to ensure everyone has a wide range of skills and has some level of know-how for their colleagues job. They don't have to be as good, or better (if they are, why aren't they doing it in the first place?!) but should at least have a decent understanding.
This isn't just a rule for viruses, but is a top tip for at any time. You never know what might happen to your star employee - just don't leave a big hole in your company when it does happen!
Working From Home
The easiest way, and most obvious, way to avoid the risk of spreading the virus is by asking your employees to work from home. For many staff, this would be welcomed!
Sitting at home in their cosy office, not getting distracted by colleagues talking loudly on the phone, and being able to make a brew without having to offer one to anyone else!
Getting your employees to work from home is probably the most straight-forward way to ensure your employees aren't contaminating each other (and yourself), but for many managers this option can be a little concerning.
The Right Equipment
Employees can come to the office and carry their role out perfectly well, but will they be able to do the same once in their kitchen at home?
You need to ensure that staff have the correct equipment to do their job, so Laptops if they don't own a personal computer, network cables to ensure the fastest speeds are achieved to do the work.
If they don't have an internet connection at home then that opens up a whole new headache!
When employees are working from home it's likely that they'll need access to private or secure data.
Therefore, you need to make sure their firewalls are secure. Not everyone is a techno-wizard like your IT team, so you might need to show them how, either in office, or by screen sharing when they're at home.
If you take the second option, you will be able to rest easy, knowing they have the capability to set it up.
Are You Getting the Same Effort?
When we're at home, we naturally relax a little and lower our standards - even if we don't mean to.
As standards slip, communications with your customers may begin to suffer. Whilst COVID-19 may not be around for ever, the customer reputation you develop will be!
How do you know your employees are still putting in the same effort? If they're on the phone, it's impossible to know how well they're doing... isn't it?
Use a System to Keep Control of Your Employees
No matter how much you trust your employees, allowing them to work from home is a risky, especially when their job includes communicating to current and potential customers, so it's important to be able to track their progress from home, which you can now do.
Cxceed is a Quantity Assurance System that makes it easy to evaluate the communications your staff are having with your customers.
Using customer feedback, as well as AI, Cxceed identifies which communications require an evaluation - allowing you to spend your time on the ones that need your attention.
It's never been easier to keep an eye on your employees and ensure they're doing exactly as you asked!
Train From Home
As well as allowing for quick and easy evaluations, Cxceed allows you to easily mark a selection of the best and worst conversations your staff are having with customers.
These can be assigned to the individual who undertook the communication, as well as their peers. Allowing your staff to evaluate their own interactions shows that you trust their judgment, and can be a great motivator.
By creating such a unique level of transparency in the evaluation process, everyone will begin to understand and have clarity over the required expectations, and find they can meet them easier.
Every conversation becomes an opportunity to train, improve, and motivate your team! It doesn't matter whether your employees are making calls from the office, or their bedroom - they can easily connect to Cxceed.
Of course, you don't need a global pandemic to get started with Cxceed. Why not get started today, and then you'll be able to improve your business no-matter the situation!
Start Testing Now
It might not be time to send every home, but that doesn't mean you can't test it.
The last thing you want is to send all your employees home one day to find out that all the planning and technology has failed. By getting a few members of the office to trail it, you can iron out any issues to ensure the business runs just as smoothly at home as it does in the office.
Not only this, but those who have been asked to work from home now won't be able to spread or catch the virus from anyone else in the office. If the worst does happen, and one of your staff members does get infected, then at least your whole team won't go down with it.
Better to have 50% of the office working from home than off sick!
Publish Your Action Plan
Now that you know your course of action, you need to make sure everyone else does!
Publish your action plan, and make sure your employees know about it. Have team meetings, send out emails, put posters up around the office. Just make sure everyone is on the same page!
So, even if Coronavirus forces us all to hibernate, it doesn't have to put a halt to your business!
With Cxceed, you can easily keep track of your employees communications, and help them improve - no matter where they are.
If your business was to go into a self-lockdown, how would you cope? Let us know in the comments section!
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