How the Remote Work Community is Uniting During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Working Remotely

See what the top companies are doing to protect their teams during this coronavirus outbreak and flu season, and learn how to keep your employees safe and productive.

Companies all over the world are taking fast measures to protect their employees during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, especially since its reach expanded so drastically.

Employers are now encouraging remote work and allowing their teams to complete their work duties outside of the office.

IBM, which previously nixed working remotely, asked their employees in affected areas to work from home as often as possible.

They’re also in the process of canceling conferences and preparing contingency plans for their US-based offices.

Coca-Cola employees were also urged to work from home if they live in China, South Korea, Singapore, or Italy.

And Twitter and Square leaders are “strongly encouraging” their employees to work remotely whenever possible.

Google is recommending *all* of its North American employees work from home.

Employee travel plans have also been globally curtailed.

Goldman Sachs limited employee travel to South Korea and parts of Italy. Employees who recently visited those regions were instructed to stay out-of-the-office for a minimum of 14 days. 

PwC suggested canceling and rescheduling all trips to affected areas. They also encouraged their employees to use the company’s $1,000 back-up child-care stipend to adjust for school and work closures.

Teams at Siemens were told to switch non-essential travel to virtual conferences or phone calls instead. We’ll show you how to do this later!

GitHub suspended non-essential travel and encouraged sick employees to take time off. They’re also initiating a cleaning and sanitization process in their San Francisco and European offices to stay proactive.

Your company can take all these steps to protect your team. But they’re not the only ones to consider.

Keep Your Team and Business Protected

Entrepreneur, Marcel Salathe shared his 5-step plan to keep your team protected and productive as an organization in one simple tweet (which has since been deleted):

Since we agree with all those points, we’ll expand on them and add our own to the list:

#1. Don’t Panic
It’s important as the leader of your company to remain calm and in control at all times. Remember: rational decision-making never comes from a state of heightened emotions.

Relax. You’ve got this.

#2. Create a Plan and Clearly Communicate It To Your Team
Create a plan that instills confidence and prioritizes the safety of your team. This should include policies that cover employee sick days, remote work, in-office hygiene standards, etc.

Make sure everyone is aware of what’s expected of them and what will be happening during this time. Reach out via email, Slack, text message, etc.

#3. Promote Higher Hygiene Standards
Everyone should know the importance of hand-washing and using hand sanitizer. 

You should suggest extra cleanings around employee computers and common areas. And try adding more antibacterial stations around the office too.

#4. Encourage Employees To Stay Home If They’re Sick
Infections can spread before employees show visible signs or symptoms. So if team members feel like they’re coming down with something, encourage them to stay home for the health of their coworkers.

#5. Limit Non-Essential Travel and In-Office Meetings
Hunter Walk shared a fantastic example of an email you can send to clients scheduled to meet with your team:

#6. Switch to Remote Work or Allow Requests for Remote Work
At-home work should be supported instead of discouraged during this time. 

Without employees mingling in the office, you may be able to keep potential germs from interacting and spreading throughout departments.

You’ll also protect your team’s mental health. Employees can remain productive without worrying or stressing about missing work or commuting via mass transportation.

Plus, you gain an opportunity to improve employee engagement and productivity without putting people at risk.

Switching to remote work helps make the best of a bad situation. It may also keep everyone out of harm’s way.

And that’s precisely why the top companies are helping businesses make the transition a bit easier during this difficult time.

Businesses are Coming Together to Support Employees and Remote Work 

The top businesses are uniting to help companies give their employees the ability to work from home without missing a beat.

Here’s a rundown of the best offers to help your team transition to remote work:

Discounts for Virtual Meeting Tools

Zoom adjusted their Basic plan from a 40-minute meeting limit to unlimited access for free users. Now you can collaborate freely without worrying about the clock cutting you off.

You can also keep in touch with your team without having to meet in-person. So meetings will still feel as if you’re all sharing the same conference room despite being in different locations (and safe in quarantine).

Zoom’s team is also closely monitoring their servers to make sure they can handle the influx of users without lagging behind.

Business Insider shared an article about other big-name companies currently offering their support:
  • Microsoft. Part of Microsoft’s Teams chat app? If you have the free version, you can enjoy complimentary access to their premium level, which lets you record your meetings and provides up to 1TB of storage.

  • Google. Google is upgrading its free users to its enterprise version of Hangouts Meet. So if you have a G Suite or G Suite for Education account, you can hop on a virtual call with up to 250 people. You can even record these meetings and livestream them to up to 100,000 people until the first of July.

  • Cisco. Cisco lifted its meeting time restrictions on the free version of its Webex service. These unlimited meetings allow up to 100 participants, and anyone can call in using a toll-free dial-in number. This is available even if you’re not a Cisco customer.

As Hunter Walk suggested earlier, it’s never been easier to move your in-person meetings to the virtual world. These services allow you to connect and run business as usual, just off-site.

If you’re nervous about switching your crew to remote work, these free guides will ease your mind and alleviate your stress.

Free Remote Work Training Guides

MURAL offered a free training session about what to do if you suddenly find your business needs to go remote to keep everyone out of harm’s way. The live webinar passed, but you can still catch the free replay.

Workplaceless also created a free guide on preparing for emergency remote work. You’ll find an emergency checklist, emergency workday module, sustainable roadmap, and a company readiness assessment.

It’s one of the best resources for quickly turning an office remote.

If you’re a business owner trying to figure out how to roll out this temporary work style to your team, Oliver McAteer offers his best advice in his free guide.

Slack also shared their advice for keeping communication strong and adapting to a new remote work environment in a free guide they published.

If working from home is brand new to your crew, you may be worried about how you’ll get everything done without being distracted. Charles Patterson’s guide on the topic helps solve those issues and more.

All these resources prove your business doesn’t have to stop or slow down during this outbreak or flu season. You just have to adopt and adapt to working remotely.

Be sure to keep checking our tweet for up-to-date remote resources.

How to Switch to a Temporary Remote Work Environment

Can your business switch to a temporary remote work environment without spending a lot of time, effort, or money?


We’re planning a future article to cover the topic of switching to a temporary work environment in much greater detail. Stay tuned!

For now, let’s steal a few tips from our guide on transitioning into a remote-first company to get you started today. 

To make the switch to temporary remote work:
  1. Start with a solid game plan for how you’ll transition. This should include collaboration with each of your teams/departments so you’re all on the same page.
  2. Create a remote working policy that outlines who can work from home, when this will start, privacy and security issues, communication expectations, performance metrics, and more.
  3. Invest in remote work tools and software so you can keep your projects and team organized and on track. The ones mentioned earlier are great to start with, especially since the free versions currently provide premium access in many cases.
  4. Communicate often with your team. Keep everyone in the loop as they get used to remote work. Deal with questions, concerns, and feedback in real-time so employees don’t feel disconnected or isolated.
Worried about how you’ll manage a team you can’t see in-person? Don’t sweat it. We covered those tips in this guide.

Consider a Remote Work Strategy Today to Protect Your Team from Coronavirus

It doesn’t take much to keep your business and your team protected.

At the very least, take a page from the top businesses’ playbook: minimize travel to affected areas and promote a work-from-home-in-the-meantime strategy.

Allowing employees to temporarily work remotely will improve productivity and reduce stress. Plus, it’s never been a better time to experiment with virtual meeting software and remote work tools.

Remote work gives your company the edge to stay strong during viral outbreaks, inclement weather, and other tumultuous times that could blow your goals off course.

By taking these proactive steps today, you’ll help decrease the risk of spreading harmful germs throughout your team and provide the best support for your employees.

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