What Coronavirus could mean for the future of telework

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In the months since Ladders last reported on the Coronavirus (COVID-19), airline stocks have dropped considerably, the global death toll has risen to 2,600 and the World Health Organization has officially recognized the epidemic as an international health emergency.

The effect on businesses is also massive and will only get worse as time goes on. However, one form of work that is getting a lot of attention right now as a savior for businesses is the concept of telework? It may become the new normal in a world that exists with Coronavirus.

Coronavirus isn’t slowing down

As of Monday, the virus has spread to Italy, South Korea, Kuwait, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Oman, causing some neighboring countries to close off their borders.

In response to the breakneck speed of transmission, more than five million companies are preparing for a sharp decline in economic growth. Just about half of the impacted firms are located in Hong Kong, while the US, Japan, and Germany account for 19%. 12% and 5% of the projected downturn respectively.

Insiders and medical professionals alike race to reduce infection hysteria given China’s economy is currently responsible for 20% of the global GPD.

“No matter which scenario plays out, the Hubei region, China, and the global economy are indicated to see a churn in their business population and some lackluster employment and revenue growth in the near-term,” Moody’s Vice President Madhavi Bokil said in a research note.

Several Starbucks and McDonalds’ chains located in affected areas have decided to shut down until the epidemic has stabilized, meanwhile, the 38 lucrative casinos located in Macau China have already been closed for nearly two months at the behest of lawmaking officials.  Ho Iat Seng, the chief executive of the independent Chinese territory told Forbes in a press statement:

“Of course this was a difficult decision, but we must do it for the health of Macau’s residents.”

Wynn Resorts is reportedly losing between $2.4 million and $2.6 million a day as a direct result of the Macau shutdown. 

All of the Apple stores and offices in mainland China have been provisionally closed down on the advice of “health experts.” 

“Out of an abundance of caution and based on the latest advice from leading health experts, we’re closing all our corporate offices, stores and contact centers in mainland China through February 9,” the company said in a statement. “Apple’s online store in China remains open.”

Even some of the firms that evidence relatively low contraction risks have enacted extended paid vacations for workers as confirmed cases continue to surge, while others have adopted indefinite teleworking strategies.

A new emphasis on telework

The corona-crisis also submits small scale considerations. Before the infection achieves pandemic status, US companies would do well to develop contingency plans for in-office output.

Without a clear prognosis, the best organizations can do to protect the health of their employees is to prohibit presenteeism. 

Ladders recently covered a new study premised by the stigma linked to utilizing sick days. Of the 2,000 participants polled in the report, 74% routinely felt pressured by their managers to come into work while ill and a comparable majority feared that a failure to do so would preclude promotion opportunities in the future. These are presumptions that can no longer be afforded. 

With remote work enjoying an upward trend, there are already a plethora of online tools to facilitate a productive quarantine operation.  

When remote work advances from perk to necessity it becomes that much more important to establish ground rules for yourself to limit procrastination. Devise a daily routine, keep hours consistent, eliminate any potential distractions and keep communication channels active.

“This sounds like a cliche surely, but being able to tell a colleague, who is clearly struggling with a cold or the flu to go home, and stay home, is not that obvious. This is part of the feedback culture, which should be fair, transparent and honest,” writes career analyst Agnes Uhereczky. 

 “it is important to stress, that workplaces shouldn’t need a wake-up call like the previous SARS outbreak or the novel coronavirus spread to appreciate the opportunities from staff working away from the office or workplace.”

Pathology and contraction

Most of the professional word on COVID-19 is preemptive in nature. Since its inception in Wuhan, China back in late 2019, the virus has spread globally in just about a month and a half.

The majority of hospitalizations and fatalities associated with COVID-19 have occurred in China though authorities recently motioned a rapid increase of outside cases. Italy has already confirmed roughly 230 infections and South Korea has reported over 830. Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs advised citizens to steer clear of the aforementioned regions in order to prevent a European outbreak. Until the crisis is contained the U.S has suspended all carriers to mainland China.

Eighteen Americans aboard the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship have contracted COVID-19 and are currently under quarantine in Nebraska, Texas, and California.

Following disapproval from state officials, The Trump Administration has abandoned plans to house these patients in Anniston, Alabama.  “We always want to help our fellow Americans, but this wasn’t fully vetted,” Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey tweeted on Sunday.

So far the reported symptoms are mostly inconsistent—in fact, many patients don’t experience any until one to two days after contraction. Below are the prodromes occasioned with the most frequency:

-Shortness of breath 

-Low-grade fever

-A persistent cough that gets progressively more severe

COVID-19 bears similarities to other zoonotic infections as far as pathology is concerned, even if it has yet to be liked to a specific animal. The death rate is about 2.3% with older males appearing to be particularly susceptible. The World Health Organization determined that the majority of reported cases have occurred in men around the age of 45.

There is no cure or vaccine for the infection and treatment can only attend developing symptoms. Novel-coronavirus-infected pneumonia (NCIP) was observed in about 26% of the initial cases indexed in Wuhan, China. Four-percent of patients that developed NCIP died in the weeks following diagnosis.

The virus is transmitted via fluids so consistent hand washing has been shown to drastically reduce contraction risk.  Tim Jewell of Healthline reports:

  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds at a time with warm water and soap.
  • Don’t touch your face, eyes, nose, or mouth when your hands are dirty.
  • Don’t go out if you’re feeling sick or have any cold or flu symptoms.
  • Cover your mouth with the inside of your elbow whenever you sneeze or cough. Throw away any tissues you use to blow your nose or sneeze right away.
  • Keep any objects you touch a lot cleaner. Use disinfectants on objects like phones, computers, utensils, dishware, and door handles.

While precautions should most certainly be exercised, the language of prevention has a way of instilling more panic than prudence. Words like pandemic, which refer to the range of infection, carry a grim foreboding ring when in actuality your chances of contracting COVID-19 are still relatively low.  As it stands influenza is more prevalent and more lethal than the coronavirus.

However, if you’ve traveled to China in the last 14 days and develop symptoms that resemble influenza or a common cold, consult a medical professional as soon as possible. If you haven’t traveled outside of the US recently but are experiencing the previously mentioned symptoms, speak with your supervisor about working from home until an official physical examination has been administered.