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CORPORATE | 16.03.2020

Remote work as a public health tool

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The health emergency caused by the spread of COVID-19 in recent days and weeks has highlighted the need for measures aimed at preventing large groups of people from gathering in confined spaces. For companies and offices, the main measure for preventing such groups is to encourage remote work where possible.

This measure involves companies making a series of adjustments but ensures a minimum level of productivity over the coming weeks while waiting for the situation to improve globally and for the spread of the disease to be kept under control. However, there are some significant challenges involved with implementing remote work in some organizations.

The advantages of remote work are clear, regardless of the circumstances. Cost savings for the company is one of the main ones. Other advantages of this type of work that significantly benefit workers include worker mobility, flexibility of working hours, and the chance to achieve a work/family life balance.

Thanks to existing remote work tools (e.g. cloud-based office systems, videoconferencing apps such as Skype and Microsoft Teams, and cloud services such as remote desktops), companies can send part of their workforce home when required and continue operating as usual, without hardly any need to change their plans or defer projects.

The difficulties involved with remote work

Remote work does not simply mean changing the worker’s location from an office to their home. Remote work requires other changes, which vary in importance depending on the nature of the company, its capacity to adapt and the resources at its disposal. Moreover, these changes must be implemented at the corporate culture level.

In a health emergency such as the coronavirus pandemic, it is completely natural for companies to want to move to remote work as a way of continuing to do business, while protecting their employees from potential infection (or keeping quarantined employees at home where they can continue working).

To implement remote work successfully companies must have a policy (all the better if one is already in place), prepare the tools and communication channels necessary to enable remote work, and propose the best way of managing the work of remote teams.