During this coronavirus pandemic, those who are fortunate enough to still be working can be divided into two groups: those who are working at home, and those essential workers who still have to come into the workplace. Companies now need to put in place a new and different set of priorities to ensure that both groups can continue to get their work done, while staying safe and healthy.
The new operational priorities for ~#WFH
For those still coming into work, the challenge of beating rush-hour traffic has been replaced with new challenges in the workplace, and companies must do everything in their power to help overcome these challenges.
Social distancing in the company of co-workers
Keeping our distance from people is more difficult than it seems. Man is a social animal and we’re all used to getting up close to those around us (to a greater or lesser extent depending on our respective cultures and concept of personal space), especially if they’re colleagues or even work-buddies. So companies must take steps to help keep us all 2m away from each other. Here are a few things they can do:
- Minimize the use of open spaces. Take full advantage of offices that have been vacated by those who are #WFH.
- If you do have to use an open space, at the very least, don’t occupy more than every other cubicle.
- Put up signs around the office to remind people – it’s very easy to just approach someone for a quick discussion without thinking about it.
- Stagger people’s coffee and lunch breaks to ensure they don’t congregate in the kitchen/canteen/coffee area. Similarly, if your opening and closing hours are strict, you should relax that requirement so that not everybody is arriving or leaving at the same time.
- Depending on the size of your restrooms, don’t let more than one or two people in at a time. Make sure everyone is aware of alternative restrooms in case the one nearest to them is occupied, and If there’s a line forming outside a restroom, make sure people keep the 2m rule between them.
Hygiene at all costs
It seems hand sanitizer is the new liquid gold according to Google Trends.
And when all of this started, the supermarket and pharmacy shelves were depleted before you could rub your hands together. But by now, everyone has restocked, and hand sanitizers are now in plentiful supply. Here are some measures companies should take to make it easy to maximize hygiene at the office.
- Companies should place a bottle of hand sanitizer at the office entrance and all employees should be strongly encouraged to disinfect their hands upon arriving at work. Throughout the course of the day, everyone should be encouraged to wash their hands regularly with soap and water.
- Every workspace should be furnished with disinfectant that employees can use to wipe down their work surfaces
- People will sneeze, people will cough. These human reactions to dust, particles, and other irritants are inevitable. Strongly promote coughing and sneezing into one’s inner elbow or sleeve and keep all workspaces well-ventilated.
- Those who can tolerate it for the whole day should wear disposable gloves and a face mask. Ideally, this would be a requirement, however, I can tell you from experience, some of those facemasks really restrict your breathing, and I personally wouldn’t be able to work with one the whole day.
Making #WFH as productive as possible
Here at Ozcode, we’re all #WFH. We have all the tools to debug code and write code that helps you debug code while at home. That doesn’t mean we’re not essential workers. Like everyone else who is #WFH, it’s just not essential that we come into the office.
Some will be more equipped than others for this new working arrangement, and companies should do everything they can to give #WFHomers all the tools and facilities they need to get their jobs done.
- People working on desktop computers should either be furnished with laptops instead, or be allowed to take their desktops home, screen and all.
- Make sure everybody has access to video conferencing. While nothing beats F2F, these applications are the next best thing, and can be instrumental in keeping everybody synch’d and psyched under sub-optimal working conditions. Take measures to alleviate bottlenecks on your network. With much of your workforce at home, you may experience performance issues. Where possible, move workloads away from on-premises servers to the public cloud. Many companies were already in the process of doing this as part of their digital transformation when coronavirus hit, so this would be a good time to accelerate cloud migrations and remove some strain from the company network. If necessary, increase the bandwidth to your premises, and in any case, monitor your network to identify any bottlenecks before they impact performance.
Another interesting Google trend for 2019 is that searches for heroes soared in 2019. The inspiring video in the link shows many ways in which people became heroes, whether locally or worldwide. Coronavirus has brought to light many new heroes. People are applauding medical staff all around the world. They are obvious heroes today, but in fact, all those still coming in to work are heroes of a sort. They are part of the critical group on whose shoulders lay the survival of the company, the “doctors and nurses” keeping the business healthy. But those working at home should be applauded as heroes also. They too are working under less than optimal conditions, making the best of a difficult situation. This is a new normal that we all have to get used to, at least for a while, but as long as everybody appreciates and applauds everybody else, tolerance, motivation, and hopefully productivity will remain high.
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