Minimizing the impact of Coronavirus with Telecommuting

As of Tuesday, March 10th, fifteen cases of Coronavirus have been confirmed in the DMV. Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in Maryland this past Friday, after three patients were diagnosed with the virus in Montgomery County.

Authorities have encouraged the community to remain vigilant and though schools and other events remain open for now, the prospect of cancellations seems more and more likely, including school closures. If schools close, businesses are likely to follow, if only so that parents can be home to take care of their children.

As the community prepares to face this emergency, we find that businesses and non-profits face complex challenges as they attempt to keep operations running smoothly while protecting the health of their employees and their families.

This situation reminds us that it’s important to have contingency plans in place to minimize disruption and income loss. An effective plan to maintain operations during this health crisis is implementing telecommuting policies.

What is Telecommuting?

Telecommuting is a way to connect with your office and business applications from somewhere other than your workplace.

Telecommuting, under normal circumstances, can be offered as a benefit to employees but in the event of a situation where one can’t physically access the organization’s offices, it can be used as a business continuity tool, allowing an organization to avoid total shutdown. This is an ideal tool when employees can’t (or shouldn’t) work from the office due to health concerns, weather-related outages, or other disruptive events.

Some of the benefits of telecommuting include:

  • Supporting Business Continuity by minimizing the disruption to operations due to power outages, natural disasters, and other emergencies
  • Increased productivity and morale
  • Flexible work hours usually improve employee recruitment and retention, and reduce absenteeism
  • No commuting–this not only saves time but it also benefits the environment

Telecommuting Essentials: how to develop your own telecommuting policy

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to creating a successful telecommuting policy. The first step is to evaluate your organization’s unique needs so you can establish guidelines that set clear expectations for your team regarding eligibility, communication, and procedures to follow.

You should also ensure your policy includes technology that facilitates remote work and protects your company data. As your IT resource, we recommend the following:

  • Evaluate what your employees need to access to be productive
  • Make sure you and your employees have access to all key line-of-business applications
  • Use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) so your traffic is encrypted and protected
  • Consider adding software that promotes communication and collaboration between your employees–examples include Microsoft Teams, Slack and Google Hangouts
  • Consider switching to a business phone system so your business calls can follow you wherever you work.  Many VoIP systems can be configured to meet this need and even to allow your wireless phone to appear as if you are dialing from your office phone

Taking the time to create a telecommuting policy is an investment in your organization’s future, as it will help you minimize the impact of any potential disruption.

If you’re interested in reviewing affordable telecommuting options or need help making sure your existing policy is safeguarding your business data, give the Digital Industry team a call or send us a message, as always, we’re here to help.