Companies around the world are grappling with how to deal with a potential Coronavirus outbreak. Here’s what they’re doing, and how it could affect their workers – various organizations have already taken precautions like restricting travel to affected countries or big international conferences. Some employees have been asked to stay home because they visited a country with a more severe outbreak. In such time of crisis, anyone could experience any of these measures as businesses try to prevent their employees from being exposed to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Big Tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Facebook have overtly specified that workers should not hesitate to work from home if they feel unwell. Twitter is “strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able.” (1)
Calling the Coronavirus outbreak an “unprecedented event,” Apple CEO Tim Cook is encouraging employees at several of its global offices to “please feel free to work remotely if your job allows”, Bloomberg reports. (2)
Why not? Remote working has various advantages after all. In fact, a global poll from 2018 by data and Insights Company Kantar found that of 33,000 people, 32% valued a job where they could work from home.
How companies should transform this situation to their advantage?
There is no doubt that home-based working could be beneficial for a number of tasks, such as those, which involve deep focus or confidentiality due to the sensitive nature of what’s being worked on. Besides, the development of cheaper and more widely available video-conferencing technology and collaboration tools also play a role to ease numerous tasks.
Let’s not forget that working from home reduces commuting time, social interaction time and the number of interruptions that normally happen in an office environment.
An ideal time to focus on team development?
Companies can use the Covid-19 outbreak as an opportunity to re-examine the relationship between businesses and employees, and to uplift their corporate culture to be mutually beneficial. This could this be the time to ask your teams to focus on their knowledge and skills development.
After all, suppliers may be less interested in bidding for work, f2f evaluation sessions are likely to be postponed, new projects are likely to be delayed. For example, once the initial needs of the business continuity have been resolved, there may be a bit of a lull in the procurement space.
Perhaps not in the direct / GFR space, where there may need to be some agile re-sourcing, but certainly in the indirect categories, we fully imagine that there could be some time to spend looking at the development of your organisation’s skillset.
You may have had to cancel face-to-face training sessions, team members coming in from overseas may have decided not to travel….and rightly so!
So, how about setting some e-learning goals?
Assign some inspiring scenario-based e-learning videos and ask your teams to take some time to develop their skills and knowledge. You might have been worried about skills such as influencing stakeholders or contract negotiation. Now may be the right time to invest in re-learning some skills.
It makes sense to take the chance to analyze where your employees need improvement and assign the right custom made e-learning courses to help them. With just one click, they can access their courses and at the same time monitor their performances. Scenario-based video training involves realistic job situation, which prepare employees for future professional challenges. This will eventually lead to more productivity and profitability.
More strategies that leaders can employ to ensure their teams continue to collaborate effectively and maintain momentum in the business –
Be clear about the goals and roles
Use home-based working to revisit the basics. This will ensure that everyone understands the team objectives, their individual roles, and how each of them contributes to the ultimate result. A disturbing occurrence like coronavirus will create new and challenging tasks across the business. This is when leaders continuously need to clarify goals so that the team can stay focused on key priorities. It is a good idea to watch out for an ever-expanding list of tasks and make sure the changing goals are communicated to the entire team.
Map skills and capacity
Today, many people work on multiple teams and projects at once. Such unstable times can lead to complications to work on various projects. To reduce the impact, consider where you have skills redundancy built into your team or how to access capacity from outside.
During such time of crisis, it is certain that a number of new tasks can arise and many employees are likely to be pulled in multiple directions. So, it is wise not to add even more stress to your workers by expecting them to handle these tensions on their own. Reassure them that they can count on you to help manage the claims for their time.
Focus on personal interactions
A sudden change from office-based to working from home can make people feel disconnected and lonely, which has a negative effect on productivity and engagement. For instance, leaders, especially those who are not used to working with virtual teams, may feel stressed about keeping the team on track. Such circumstances can lead you to become exclusively task-focused. This is why making time for personal interaction should be a priority for all the team members in order to face the challenge
Keep in mind that disruption also creates opportunity. There is no doubt that threats like the Coronavirus will create major instability in the corporate world. However, strategies can be used to respond effectively and continue to deliver against your business goals. Use this time to explore new ways of working and focus on training your employees through e-learning that will likely benefit you in the long run.
- CNBC – https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/04/coronavirus-highlights-who-can-and-cant-work-from-home.html
- The Verge – https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/8/21170547/tim-cook-remote-iphone-apple-global-coronavirus
David is a CPO with experience across multiple industry sectors. Having started his career in textiles and retail, he has since had senior roles in the Electronics, Pharmaceutical and Financial sectors, including Global Head of Corporate Procurement for Pharmaceuticals at Novartis Pharma AG. David led the Cancer Research team that won the 2015 Procurement Leaders award for Transformation and has since delivered “Transformation of procurement” in several well-known multinationals. David is a multilingual professional with over 25 years of Procurement and Supply Chain experience.