The COVID-19 global pandemic has rattled industries across the world. Its wide-ranging impacts include travel restrictions, production delays, conference cancellations, and lost sales opportunities.
These weeks, as the coronavirus outbreak escalates, the U.S is enforcing social distancing measures to “flatten the curve”. Major cities across the country including NYC, LA, and San Francisco are shutting down restaurants, bars, gyms, and schools to try to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus.
But the world keeps spinning, the economy has to keep functioning, and we need to find a way to live with this situation for longer than we thought. The outbreak has definitely brought about new social and work behaviors, which are driving the need for virtual workplace platforms and labor productivity measurement.
In early March 2020, most of the big tech companies imposed remote working orders, for which many already had the infrastructure in place to support virtual working. As for small, medium, and startup businesses with limited resources, it could be more challenging.
In my experience of building Kaizen Technology Partners from the ground up as a WFH virtual company, here are some recommendations.
1. Know Your Virtual Options
Even before the lockdown, Kaizen Technology Partner members were working from different parts of the country and world since its inception. Here are some suggested options and several new players for your organizations should consider:
WhatsApp / Slack / Flowdock / AWS Chime
Use these to create different messaging groups for different groups of people. You can use these for quick team huddles, updates, etc. In fact, you might be surprised at how much time you save this way versus doing it in person.
Remote video conferencing services:
Zoom / Google Hangouts / Microsoft Teams / Maestro
Use these to set-up remote conferencing services to allow users to meet face-to-face even when physically apart. In response to the high demand during the outbreak, Zoom, Microsoft, and Google are offering many of their paid features for free as well as increasing the number of participants allowed in their free version.
Project management services:
Asana / HiTask / LiquidPlanner / Trello
Use these platforms for project management, organizing tasks, tracking, and reporting of program status to more effectively manage risks and resources.
2. Be Prepared for the Worst-Case Scenario
Great leaders will always be prepared. Plan your Disaster Recovery and Backup Protocol from Day 1.
The coronavirus pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on leaders in business which will be tested to the max. During the crisis, leaders have had to take action to start Work-From-Home (WFH) policies almost immediately. We have seen a significant surge for SaaS businesses and Cloud usage during this WFH era (check out Zoom’s stock movement). I highly recommend the research conducted by McKinsey which illustrates 5 sets of actions for U.S companies responding to the COVID-19 challenges, respectively including Workforce Protection, Supply Chain Stabilization, Customer Engagement, Financial Stress Testing, and Nerve-Centre Integration. Generally, the more adaptive leaders are, the more likely their organizations will overcome this crisis.
3. And last… One of the best things I learned from the Harvard Owner/President Management Program: find a way to turn crisis into opportunity.
Take a moment to not just see the things you and your team have lost, but look for the positives and the efficiencies you may be able to gain by reviewing how things might be done differently and better in the future at a time when you can test out new ideas.
Most importantly, take another moment to find new ways to reach out and give a special touch to your prospects, clients, and team. That could be sending everyone the same t-shirt to wear on a virtual team conference call, or the same red bottle of wine to drink together during a virtual happy hour meeting. These little touches can bring people closer together when they might otherwise be feeling detached while working remotely.