While the coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is top of mind for everyone right now, outbreaks like this illustrate the importance of anticipating — and preparing for — business interruptions. They also show us just how connected we are, and how that connectedness raises the challenge of managing through the disruption.
IT, HR, and other leaders at organizations around the globe are jumping into action to put remote working policies and technology in place to keep business operational and productive as coronavirus spreads one country, one city, to the next. The news is changing quickly, and they’re having to evolve and evaluate their options on a daily basis — perhaps for weeks and possibly months — to come.
What makes the coronavirus outbreak particularly challenging is today’s hyperconnectivity. The pace of business today requires teams to remain connected no matter the circumstances surrounding them. With travel advisories in place in many companies and across various geographies, in-person meetings are no longer an option — and no one can accurately predict just how much more impact we’ll see before the worries about and restrictions around COVID-19 start to subside.
One thing that is clear is this: Companies simply can’t just isolate themselves and wait for the situation to improve.
The opportunity is to both catch up with the latest technology and work ahead. We should be taking steps to mitigate business disruptions while maintaining a new normalcy. Even with an ongoing major health issue such as COVID-19 in the world, companies have options to protect their employees while maintaining a high level of output.
Gartner predicts that by 2024, only 25% of meetings will take place in person, down from 60% today. The fallout from coronavirus could expedite this trend.
You’re likely considering bringing in or increasing your use of webcast and videoconferencing technology as part of your planning around coronavirus. Allowing remote video meetings will alleviate employees’ worries around contagion — as HR leaders well know, a key goal of any company during this threat should be maintaining the safety and peace of mind for employees. In addition, it will enable productive work to continue.
Uncertainty is often the enemy of progress. We can’t paralyze ourselves worrying about every possible scenario. However, we can smartly prepare for what we can’t anticipate, and having a remote work strategy in place is the responsible move. Even once this current threat dissolves, another will inevitably happen — and probably sooner than we expect.
The real mark of a leader is to act outside the time of need rather than jumping from crisis to crisis and extinguishing fires as they break out. It shouldn’t take a pandemic to make us understand the importance of preparation. Let’s make sure we plan accordingly around remote working to sustain business operations in any given scenario.