COVID-19: Workforce Strategies for your Business

16 Mar 2020

The uncertainty caused by the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus has placed many business leaders in a difficult situation on how to build a resilient and effective business strategy that can minimise the adverse effects caused by the recent outbreak.

One major effect of the virus’ continuous spread is its impact on the economy. Despite continuously experiencing rapid growth,  several major economies have slowed significantly over the past few months. In response to COVID-19, businesses are developing their contingency plans. While many of them already have existing plans to handle this outbreak, others are still uncertain if they have the right strategy in place to control long-term implications.

Businesses should plan an effective response not just for situations like the COVID-19 outbreak. These plans should be thorough and go beyond managing the current situation. They should also ensure business continuity by avoiding disruptions to their workforce.

Prioritise Workforce Safety

Measures to protect the safety of your workforce depend on the type of work and their location.  Potential exposure brought by interactions with infected people and possible contamination of the work environment is one of the primary areas of concern in making sure that your workforce is safe from any elements of infection. Companies must adapt infection management strategies by implementing administrative controls and safe work practices. This includes performing routine sanitation of work areas and advising employees to take precautionary measures when interacting with others.

The U.S Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed interim guidance to help employers implement safety measures to prevent workforce exposure to COVID-19  that can be found here.

Improve Remote Working Capabilities

Companies must also be ready to adapt to changing conditions in the economy. Several business leaders today are looking into having their workforce operate remotely as a viable solution. They are making sure that support communications, information back-up and documentation processes are in place are vital in minimising the disruption caused by the viral outbreak. Here are a few considerations in creating an effective remote working plan:

• Review IT infrastructure processes and documentation. Many companies are leaning towards cloud-based solutions to ensure that the data they need is available and can easily be accessed remotely at any given time. While the advantages of migrating processes to cloud environments bring many benefits, potential data security issues could arise if not implemented properly.

• Network availability and connectivity are vital factors in creating an effective remote working plan. Having a thorough understanding of support systems and control conditions will protect your data from any potential risks. Company-managed devices or personally-owned computers can also access data via protected VPNs to prevent security issues that may arise.

•  Have a policy in place and set expectations.  A formal agreement with employees should always be documented and clear expectations should be set regarding communication and project management.

Develop an Effective Remote Working Strategy

Businesses need to prepare not only for what might happen today but must also have a clear vision on how to minimise productivity impact caused by the outbreak. Being familiar with the common issues brought by working remotely will help you create an effective strategy. 

A remote work strategy is essential in ensuring the safety of your employees.
A remote work strategy is essential in ensuring the safety of your employees.

As it happens, many organisations have not recognised the issues present and are having difficulties in implementing this strategy. Challenges such as how often employees need to send their updates, what remote tools match up with their technical requirements and even monitoring and management decision-making for a team to start a project.

Review Long Term Strategies

Having a long term strategy will enable your business to recover from the impact of COVID-19. However, a work from home strategy should not be considered as a long term solution. Observe market conditions and define your business objectives once the outbreak has passed and invest in strategies to facilitate growth.

Exploring solutions such as hiring an offshore workforce through a service provider can also be utilised. Businesses with no remote working strategy in place or companies that experienced financial loss during the outbreak may consider it. Through offshoring specific back-office operations, companies can focus on business recovery and save more on labour costs at the same time. 

(Read: How Cost-Effective Offshore Outsourcing Is).

At the end of the day, no one can accurately predict the economic impact of something like COVID-19. As of this writing, massive efforts are being made to understand the virus and how to properly combat it. There should be strategies in place that minimises the outbreak’s effects while allowing operations to continue within their limits. Despite the increasing challenges, it is certain that the economy will recover over time eventually. Until then, businesses should have a plan in place so they can easily recover from the aftermath of the outbreak.