Coronavirus has officially been labeled as a pandemic. The CDC has labeled it as a serious problem and businesses all over the world are facing the new challenge of “social distancing” in an attempt to curtail and mitigate the spread of the virus.
Today, if you own, manage or work in an office, two things are on your mind: “How can I help contain the virus?” and “How can I protect our business?”
Teleconferencing is one tool that can help you do both.
We at 24Conference have never been busier as we help businesses and organizations of all sizes cope with the coronavirus. We offer communications support and enable users to not only maintain the free flow of information, but actually improve efficiencies and collaborative efforts with a variety of conference call services. As people become more “socially distant” it is critical to provide a high quality communications tool that allows for normal business interactions and keeps everyone in the loop.
How to Maintain Business Continuity During Virus Threat
Obviously, everyone’s top priority is to protect the health and well-being of all business associates. Government and private sectors are working hard to stop the spread of the virus by eliminating events, conferences and travel. Now, more than ever, we need to take steps to limit person-to-person contact because spreading can occur before symptoms appear. Beyond that, the challenge is to maintain business operations, and hopefully, profits, as the nation and world adjust to the new reality.
Teleconferencing will be the key to maintaining communications while decreasing the amount of physical contact.
What Happens if You Don’t Have a Work-at-Home (WAH) Model in Place?
Not to worry. You can set one up easily and quickly. A few things need to be in place for a successful work-from-home (or supplementing office work) program. You need:
— Employee at-home Internet connection
— Data security policy
— Conference calling services
These days, the vast majority of people have Internet at home. As for data, it is important to let your employees know, in writing, how to treat sensitive company data on their home computers or in the cloud.
To implement conference call services, any number of our 24Conference plans could be the solution for your particular needs.
Our most popular work-at-home conference call solution is our Pay-as-You-Go plan that enables you to establish a toll-free conference service without any special equipment, hardware or software. Employees only need their cell phones or landlines to access the conference bridge and to enter their passcode.
With a professional conference call service at your disposal, meetings that use to take an hour can be done in 15 minutes. But more importantly, no germs are spread and your employees, and business, stay safe from the threat.
Having Company Associates Conference from Home
Working from home may seem like a difficult transition in the best of times, but every challenge comes with an opportunity for growth.
The most important factor in determining success with a work-at-home model boils down to communication. Being able to jump onto a conference call with your department at any time is the key in maintaining contact among decision makers and stakeholders.
As stated above, our Pay-as-You-Go conference service provides everyone with 24/7 access to a professional high quality conference bridge without an set up fee, monthly fees or cancellation fees. Your company just pays for the time you use, no more and no less. You keep your passcodes and can use them at any time because there are no reservations — the conference bridge is always open. And you even monitor the conference call online and see who is on the call.
Working from Home Is Nothing New
This is nothing new. More than 8 million Americans already work from home. Apple, Intuit, and Rosetta Stone are just a few examples of companies who have made the transition and come out stronger than ever. All report higher productivity, less attrition, higher employee satisfaction. Not to mention the loss of long commutes, which contributes to everything listed, but also helps reduce carbon emissions during transportation, reduces traffic (which is important during this outbreak, so that important healthcare workers and police can easily move around), and puts less of a strain on our infrastructure.
There are even direct incentives to make the switch. Many states offer grants to companies that allow employees to work from home. A web search about your particular state would show the various programs in place.
Schools and colleges are making the transition to “distance learning.” For service industries and business, now could be an ideal time to transition to “distance working.” The benefits have proven to far outweigh the challenges of making a change. And this pandemic demands that we all make changes in order to keep people safe.
With Access to Conference Calling, How Working at Home Increases Business Productivity
Some experts are speculating that the circumstances brought about by the virus could permanently change the way business functions and operates — for the better. As an unintended consequence of having employees work from home, productivity could actually increase. Here are a number of reasons why working from home, along with the appropriate tools like conference calling services can be beneficial to your entire organization:
1) Without office distractions, employees are 35-40% more productive. Other benefits include increased employee satisfaction, reduced attrition, and reduced unscheduled absences from sickness.
2) Employees are more satisfied with their jobs when working from home. Two thirds of people would rather work from home. 36% would take working from home over a pay raise. 17% have left a job because of a commute and 70% of job searchers consider telework to be a big factor in their decision-making. While coronavirus creates a lot of fear and discontent, working from home would be a counterbalance to that, giving your employees a reason to not despair.
3) Dissatisfaction, of course, can lead to attrition. Losing a valued employee can cost tens, even hundreds, of thousands of dollars in lost time and in training a replacement. Almost all employers report that working from home has a huge impact on retaining associates.
4) Another huge component of job-dissatisfaction is a long commute. This is the part of most people’s lives when they are most unhappy. Completely taking this out of the equation would not only make employees significantly happier, but would also increase productivity by simply eliminating a huge time-waster from the day.
5) Time flexibility is becoming increasingly important to workers. During this trying time, people may have other obligations to attend to. Some might have sick family that needs attention, but would still be able to work from home during the day. Or they might need to fly to another state in order to be closer to an elderly family member. In addition, more job hunters are looking for flexibility. A full 70% of job hunters consider telework to be a big factor in decision-making. Having a more flexible schedule will help ensure you attract and retain key personnel.
6) Working from home is greener. The environmental impact of commuting is well-known. Also, keeping the roads clear for healthcare workers, police, and emergency responders will ensure that we do everything we can to protect our most vulnerable members of society. Some states have noted the green aspects of working from home as well. That’s why there are various states that offer grants to companies that allow employees to work from home. They include Oklahoma, Alabama, and Vermont. Check your local government for grants.
Social Distancing in the Business World
With coronavirus, there is actually a long time period when a person can have absolutely no symptoms and yet still be contagious. When working from home, the staff can work normally during the incubation period, and get the proper treatment and care if and why they should ever contract the illness. The important distinction is that they will not have infected the rest of your office while they seemed healthy. With a deadly virus spreading across the globe, taking extra steps to protect your employees will keep people safe.
Understanding and Compassion are key in times like this. While taking the initiative to allow everyone to work from home may be a leap into the unknown, it could be the safest thing to do. Besides, people like it. Surveys show that working from home is the number one thing people brag about their job, even before salary. During times like this, opportunities arise to grow loyalty and gratitude among the work force. As stated, working from home has shown to reduce the rate at which employees leave their job. Another huge factor is employer trust, which can be gained or lost in moments like these, where tough decisions need to be made.
24Conference makes the communication part of working from home easy. Making sure everyone has the ability to communicate in any emergency is the most important thing.
Measuring Job Performance with the WAH Model
One of the biggest issues employers have for the work-at-home (WAH) concept is that it is difficult to measure job performance when employees are out of sight. However, job measures for remote workers are actually more effective because they track performance and output, rather than how or where the job is done. Moreover, when performance is measured by what is actually produced and accomplished, employees are relieved because they are no longer distracted by office culture bias and office politics. The results speak for themselves.
Taking performance measures seriously is what separates success from failure in our modern economy. Work-from-home does not a lazy employee make if tracking performance properly, which should be done either way.
The Faster You Implement WAH Programs, the Better You Can Manage
As of mid-March 2020, experts say things will probably get worse before they get better. If our nation and world are going to stay strong through all of this, we need to do all we can to slow the spread of this virus and make sure we keep the economy going for everyone.
You can begin your social distancing efforts by adopting conference calling as a core function in your office and business environment. Don’t have big onsite meetings. Rather, start scheduling conference calls and keep people apart as much as you can.
When the virus passes and is a part of history, you’ll be able to look back and see clearly that it really presented an opportunity to improve your business process, increase productivity, and help you create an environment where information and data — and ideas — can flow easily between your associates. It’s good business! Let us know how 24Conference can help.