Covid-19 virus has an upside: Who knew?

Some of us are old enough to remember the impact on work of the SARS outbreak in 2003, and H1N1 Pandemic is 2009. Australia was largely unaffected by both, but news services and the internet brought us closer to the reality of containment, lockdowns, quarantines, and enforced isolation.

The lessons of those outbreaks are – to some extent – being adopted now. We can all be critical of the lack of a co-ordinated response globally, but each of us is experiencing action being taken to some degree.

It’s easy to get swept up in the stress and panic. Harder to Keep Calm and Carry On. But if you are a ‘Glass Half-Full’ person, there’s always hope and upside. I’m one of those, so here’s my quasi rose-tinted view of what’s good about the current malaise. Oh, and I should warn you, it has a technology bias to it, although the human element is there too, I hope.

New Ways of Working

Or NWOW as we’ve come to know it is all about remote working, adopting technology, and shedding operating costs like offices and corporate HQ facilities as well as opening-up work opportunities for working mums and dads. What better way to road test a whole host of operational processes and functions than a pandemic? Collaboration and technology solutions are critical success factors, and we’ll cover that in more detail below.

Work-Life Balance.

Any of you commuting to work daily will know the feeling – late trains, delays, cramped carriages and buses, costly car maintenance – the list goes on. Start totting up the gains in time, cost savings, and general well-being from not having to commute daily, and you can’t help feeling better. How about taking some of those daily savings and treating yourself to a home-delivered meal, or your favourite bottle of wine?

Let’s Get Productive.

Most of us have been living with chat, video calls, and online meetings for 15+ years. But in situations like this, having the tools to communicate effectively while remote from your colleagues becomes a lifesaver. The technology has come a long way since those first flickering black and white images in 1968 when AT&T launched Picturephone. Video chat, as we know it today, emerged in 1996 on mobile devices, but it wasn’t until the mid-2000 that sufficient bandwidth came available to make calls from computers and phones tolerable. Today, most of us have access to fast broadband or 4G, so there are no excuses. Add in tech solutions like Teams, and you can:

  • Express your creative side on a shared whiteboard
  • Explore a range of audio conferencing capabilities
  • Set up notification settings to ensure everyone in your project teams is in the loop
  • Add cool live captions
  • Turn on cloud recording & transcription to keep a record of a conversation or share it with colleagues not able to attend a call
  • Send colleagues urgent message updates which appear instantly on their desktop or mobile devices
  • Run live events for town halls, team talks, leadership updates or group training/lectures
  • Hold short Check-ins and ‘virtual stand-ups.’

    Today, many organisational benefits from having their teams work remotely, but let’s not forget the human side of this equation. Particularly during a pandemic. Two things to consider: your health and the health of others.

Setting up to work remotely requires thought and planning. Here is a useful checklist. The emphasis is on balance, mindfulness, and making sure you’re keeping track of time. It’s easy to get lost in screen-time and forget to take breaks, do personal chores, and engage with family and friends. Balance is key.

We’ve seen a significant spike in remote working – even before the virus situation emerged. It’s not always easy to adapt to new styles of working, but with care and planning, the transition can be quick and effective. An upside to the COVID-19 virus: who knew?