On Thursday 27 February 2020, Prime Minister, Scott Morrison stated that “based on the expert medical advice we have received, there is every indication that the world will soon enter a pandemic phase of the coronavirus”.
As the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) approaches a global pandemic, companies are going to be faced with some difficult challenges.
Worst-case forecasts suggest that a pandemic outbreak could last for up to 10 months, and that 40% of Australia’s workforce could be directly impacted as a result of illness or caring for family members.
Current Government advice is for those diagnosed with coronavirus to isolate themselves at home – which means not going to public places, such as work, school, shopping centres, childcare or university. Government health advice states that the virus can have an incubation period of up to 14 days and be transmitted to others even while the carrier is asymptomatic.
There is a reasonable possibility that members of your team may be required to work from home (where this is possible) during this period.
For any team that can work remotely, preparations should be made now in order to make this transition as seamlessly as possible.
Here are six ways to ensure your company can deliver high performance despite coronavirus…
Good hand hygiene and sneeze/cough hygiene is the best defence against most viruses.
Encourage your team members to:
Provide access to alcohol-based hand sanitiser in the workplace.
Keeping your team aligned is a key driver of high performance at the best of times. Doing so in the midst of coronavirus requires a clear operating system and organisational rhythm to keep everyone focused, aligned and productive.
Easing your way into remote working arrangements will be far easier than trying to figure out systems and processes on the fly. Suddenly realizing that your regularly scheduled team meeting won’t be happening in person and scrambling to figure out how to get everyone together is not conducive to high performance.
Letting team members who are able to work from home do so now, as their schedule and workload allows, will provide insight into the issues you need to address before you get to the point where team members are required work remotely for a period of time.
Did you launch Slack, Yammer, Teams, Go To Meeting… invest in a Meeting Owl… but never quite embedded this as a core competency across your team? Now might be the time to ‘re-implement’ these systems, clean up your channels, groups and permissions to ensure they are adding the intended value and facilitating collaboration in the event that face to face communication is not an option for a period of time.
You’ll also want to think about any devices your team members will need to deliver high performance remotely. Will they need a laptop or phone to work remotely? Can they bring their own device? You need to ensure your team has what it needs to keep working ahead of time – particularly if supply chains continue to dry up.
The foundation of any high performance team is trust. For your remote work system to thrive (not just survive) leaders must let go of a measure of control since you’re not going to be in the same pod/room/building/complex. If you find yourself stressed and anxious at the prospect of your team working remotely, start by taking a deep breath and creating some awareness around why this is triggering you. You hired your team for a reason, and now it’s time to empower them to deliver high performance.
It is critically important that you understand how coronavirus could potentially impact your business and have contingency plans and processes in place, ready to action if required.
As the situation unfolds the response from the government will crystallise, so ensure that you check in on reputable sources of information such as the Australian Government’s Department of Health website to stay up to date.