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Working From Home During The Coronavirus Pandemic: What You Need To Know

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As coronavirus cases have surged, so have the number of companies asking their employees to work from home, with 46% of American businesses having implemented remote-work policies as of mid-February. While telecommuting has become more mainstream in recent years—the remote workforce grew 159% between 2005 and 2017—when just 3.4% of Americans work from home at least half of the time, it’s not unreasonable to think that many of the employees who have been asked to work from home due to the coronavirus may have little to no experience doing so, or at least not for an extended period of time.

Whether you’re a first-time telecommuter struggling to be as productive from your couch as you are from your cube, or a manager looking for ways to keep your newly remote team engaged, here’s everything you need to know about working from home during the coronavirus pandemic. We’ll be adding to this guide as the situation develops, so check back for updates.

How To Work From Home

As the coronavirus has continued to spread, some of the world’s biggest businesses have asked employees to work from home. But if you’re working remotely for an extended period of time, how can you ensure that you’re just as productive from your couch as you are from your cube? These six tips may be key to your success.

Many organizations have encouraged their workers to curb, if not cancel, business trips. If yours hasn’t, you may be wondering whether your boss can make you travel during an outbreak. The short answer: Maybe.

If you can’t telecommute and have to miss work due to being quarantined, can you lose your job? Here’s what you need to know about your rights.

March is typically a strong hiring month, but as COVID-19 continues to spread, the job market may experience a slowdown. Whatever you do, don’t abandon your search—heed this advice to achieve the best possible outcome.

If you’re a member of the class of 2020, with just weeks to go until graduation, chances are you’ve got more than a few questions about how, if at all, the coronavirus may affect your job hunt. Here’s what you need to know

Hiring may slow down, but it’s not likely to come to a grinding halt. There will always be a demand for top talent, even in a down market, and if you’re responsive to potential employers, open to alternative arrangements and follow these steps, you’ll be better equipped to keep your search alive.

How To Manage A Remote Team

As COVID-19 forces employers to embrace remote work, leaders have found themselves faced with a unique challenge: engaging employees from afar. Here’s how to get started.

Despite the widespread adoption of telecommuting, remote-work advocates aren’t necessarily celebrating. Going remote may seem simple, but without the proper processes in place, experts warn that such arrangements can have serious consequences for companies.

In times of uncertainty, people look to their leaders for answers. But you don’t have to know everything about COVID-19 to effectively address your team’s concerns—what you do need is a crisis communications plan.

Leaders would also do well to stick to the facts and avoid any absolutes, exaggerations or otherwise emotive language. In other words, don’t say these 10 things.

The bottom line: Keep calm. Panic is contagious, but so is courage, and by following these six steps, you’ll be better equipped to lead through tumultuous times.

Vicky Valet, Forbes Staff, Careers

Health

[BREAKING] Coronavirus Update: Global COVID-19 cases pass one million

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While most cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the U.S. , Europe, and China, the virus is spreading rapidly across the African continent.

The confirmed worldwide cases for the virus have surpassed a million with the current figure being at 1,005,858.

The increase in new reported cases around the world has led the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the coronavirus a global pandemic.

The death toll continues to rise globally, and is currently at 51,644.

Italy leads with 13,915. Spain is second with 10,096 . The U.S. is third with 5,768. France is fourth with 4,503, and China, where the virus originated from, is fifth with 3,318.

The figure of the global recoveries stands at 210,577.

Here are the numbers in Africa:

Country Confirmed Cases Confirmed DeathsConfirmed Recoveries
Algeria9868661
Angola821
Benin131
Botswana41
Burkina Faso2881650
Burundi3
Cameroon284710
Cabo Verde (Cape Verde)61
Central African Republic (CAR)3
Chad7
Congo2222
Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)19419
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)123113
Djibouti40
Egypt86558201
Equatorial Guinea151
Eritrea22
Eswatini (formerly Swaziland)9
Ethiopia293
Gabon181
Gambia412
Ghana204531
Guinea52
Guinea-Bissau9
Kenya11034
Liberia6
Libya10
Madagascar59
Malawi3
Mali363
Mauritania612
Mauritius1697
Morocco6914430
Mozambique10
Namibia142
Niger745
Nigeria184220
Rwanda84
Senegal195155
Seychelles10
Sierra Leone2
Somalia51
South Africa 1,462550
Sudan822
Tanzania2012
Togo39217
Tunisia455145
Uganda45
Zambia391
Zimbabwe91

Note: The numbers will be updated as new information is available.

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Health

Surge Of Smartphone Apps Promise Coronavirus Tracking, But Raise Privacy Concerns

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Topline: A pan-European team of researchers announced Wednesday their plan to release a smartphone app that would notify users if they’ve been exposed to someone infected with coronavirus, the latest example of tech-driven coronavirus solutions that have also raised concerns about user privacy.

  • A European project called Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing is working toward releasing a coronavirus tracing app in the next week that would use anonymous Bluetooth technology to track when a smartphone comes in close range with another, so if a user were to test positive for coronavirus those at risk of infection could be notified.
  • Contact tracing, or determining people who may have been exposed to someone with a virus, is an established aspect of pandemic control and was used effectively to tackle coronavirus in countries like China, Singapore and South Korea in the form of smartphone tracking.
  • University of Oxford researchers and the U.K. government are working on a similar project— but unlike other smartphone tracking systems, the British version in development would be based on voluntary participation and bet on citizens inputting their information out of a sense of civic duty.
  • The U.S. government is in talks with companies like Facebook FB and Google GOOGL and other tech companies about tracking if users are social distancing using large amounts of anonymous, aggregated location data— this information is less precise, and more likely to anticipate outbreaks rather than pinpoint individuals who have been exposed to the virus.
  • 1.5 million Israelis have voluntarily downloaded a mobile app that alerts users if they’ve come into contact with someone with coronavirus— but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has still ordered that potential coronavirus carriers have their phones monitored, a controversial move the government says is necessary, as the 17% of the population using the app is not enough to fight off the pandemic.  
  • Moscow , on a city-wide lockdown since Monday, announced Wednesday that a new phone app that will officials to track the movements of people diagnosed with coronavirus in the capital city would be launched on Thursday, saying the government will lend a smartphone to anyone unable to download the app.

Crucial quote: “We’re exploring ways that aggregated anonymized location information could help in the fight against [coronavirus]. One example could be helping health authorities determine the impact of social distancing, similar to the way we show popular restaurant times and traffic patterns in Google Maps ,” Google spokesman Johnny Luu told the The Washington Post. He made sure to note it “would not involve sharing data about any individual’s location, movement, or contacts.”

Key background: Private and public entities alike are looking for ways to fight off coronavirus as the pandemic continues. On Wednesday, there were more than 900,000 confirmed cases worldwide and nearly 50,000 deaths.Officials told The New York Times NYT that The National Health Service, Britain’s centralized national health system, is trusted by citizens— and paired with the strong data privacy laws in place, said they think people would agree to join the effort to share their private information to help trace infections. However, American tech firms are reported to still be skeptical about sharing substantial data with the U.S. government ever since Edward Snowden revealed the NSA was collecting information from the firms clandestinely. 

Surprising fact: The information tech companies have access to data that sheds light on Americans’ behavior in light of the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Facebook analysis, restaurant visits fell about 80% in Italy and 70% in Spain— while Americans only stopped eating out at a rate of 31%.

Carlie Porterfield, Forbes Staff, Business

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Economy

5 Tips For SMEs To Counter The Covid-19 Crisis

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It was recently reported by ratings agency S&P Global that the coronavirus outbreak has plunged the world into a recession. On the home front, a sudden surge in COVID-19 cases in the country resulted in the President of South Africa imposing a 21-day country-wide lockdown, starting from Thursday, 26 March 2020. Combine this with the fact that the country also recently announced to be in its third recession since 1994 it’s safe to say that many businesses are beginning to feel the effects of the pandemic.

The impact of the coronavirus on small businesses is likely to be substantial, especially for local businesses who are already feeling the pinch, as financial and market uncertainty can easily translate into an emotional crisis that can overwhelm our systems. However, help is on the way as the Department of Small Business Development announced that a Debt Relief Fund has been set up to assist small, medium and micro enterprises impacted by COVID-19.

While this relief is welcomed, it is still vital for leaders to step up. The world has been through crises before, but during these significantly difficult times, the economic impact may be as severe or possibly worse. As such, those in leadership positions must use past crises as examples and apply what was learnt to keep the country on course and minimise the impact of the pandemic.

Karl Westvig, CEO at Retail Capital, has pinpointed the visible areas that are affected and outlined a few pointers to help small business owners weather the storm.

Liquidity

The first victim of panic is liquidity – banks, asset managers and funders stop lending. When they cannot calculate the potential risk, they will not lend.  Therefore, it is critical to shore up cash by drawing down on available facilities and suspending any unnecessary investments. Reduce expenses and manage cash flow daily.

Get Your Best Team on It

When a business is growing, we tend to shift our best people into roles linked to growth and new initiatives. In a crisis, these people need to move into the highest priority roles. These roles would include collecting from customers, raising facilities or engaging key clients.

Morale and Communication

People need leadership. This would include authentic and regular communication about the situation, what the business requires and how this will be achieved. You can’t control the circumstances, but you can control the response and actions. This will create more certainty.

Hands-on

Events evolve quickly and every day is critical. Leaders must be hands-on. They have to be in touch with customers, suppliers, funders and staff. They have to collect data on everything – the mood, the financial metrics, even customer stories. Some of the best information is anecdotal, not just big data.

Policies

It’s tough to lead when you don’t understand all the underlying levers. These can change in a crisis. What worked in a stable environment can go out of the window in an instant. The best approach is to start again, listen to customers and then adapt your policies within your framework.

“This is not a manual on how to handle the current crisis, but hopefully, the points mentioned above can add to what you are already doing. In simple terms, it is easy to be overwhelmed, so tackle a few things very quickly and with commitment. This will create certainty and lead to action. The alternative is paralysis,” concludes Westvig.

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