If you haven’t yet felt the effects of coronavirus in your business or workplace yet – you’ve been living in the far reaches of the galaxy. 

This week it hit home for me. Approximately half of my income for the month is at risk with clients either cancelling or postponing scheduled workshops – as a result of travel bans or self-imposed isolation. 

The doom and gloom of it can start to feel overwhelming. 

But there is a significant upside and we all need to work at recognising it. 

For the first time ever – employers of office workers are fully embracing the idea of working from home. This wouldn’t have been possible five years ago – but with quality online meeting technology readily available (Zoom, GoTo meeting, Skype and Microsoft Teams), computers with in-built cameras and microphones the norm, and high speed internet in most regions of Australia – working and connecting with colleagues from home is fully accessible. 

Not only are we more productive working from home due to less distractions from colleagues in the office, most of us gain back an average of 1-2hrs in travel commute time per day.  

A 2-year Stanford study by Professor Nicholas Bloom published in 2018 found an astounding productivity boost among the work from home employees equivalent to a full day’s work. In addition, work from home employees took shorter breaks, had fewer sick days and took less time off. 

Added benefits were reduced carbon emissions from fewer cars on the road, a saving to the company in $2000 per employee in reduced rent with less workers requiring HQ office space, and a 50% reduction in attrition for working from home employees. 

As a working mum, I would also add the personal benefits gained from being more accessible to my family in the mornings and evenings, and saving in after school care costs.

I don’t know about you – but after sitting at my desk in online meetings for two hours – I love nothing more than the quick energiser of hanging a load of washing on the line. Not only have I raised my heart rate and had some fresh air, I’ve nailed a bit of housework. Win win! 

In addition to fully embracing working from home, coronavirus is forcing us to think about new ways to encourage spending. The worst thing we can do is hunker down. We all have a responsibility to keep our economy moving – and we can do this in very small ways. 

For example, a bakery in New Jersey (USA) posted on their Instagram – pre-order and they will drop the food to your car window. Genius! 

A bottle shop in Bangalow (Australia) is giving away a free roll of toilet paper with every case of Corona beer sold. Hilarious! 

Uber eats have announced that customers are able to request food to be left on their doorstep. 

Companies like Uber, Lyft and Woolworths are being forced to reckon with workers’ rights by compensating staff who are being quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19 in response to pressure from those who say they cannot afford to take time off work even if they are sick. 

Coronavirus is a curse and a blessing. Now is the time to find new ways of working and connecting; of being socially and environmentally responsible – without bringing the economy to a halt.  

And who knows, once the crisis passes, perhaps some of these new ways will become the new norm. 

 

Reference:
Go Ahead, Tell Your Boss You Are Working From Home / Nicholas Bloom / TEDxStandford (2017)
Youtube Video, Added by TEDx Talks [Online]. Available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=oiUyyZPIHyY&feature=emb_title 

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