by Viktorija Nikoloska

Work from home has been trending over the years, but with the pandemic situation of Coronavirus throughout the world, remote work has been considered not only as a trend but as a prevention measure as well. Nowadays, as the Coronavirus is spreading with the speed of light throughout the world, companies have started considering this option to let their employees work from home. Organizations that have no strict requirement for their employees to be physically present at their offices allow them to work from home during the situation at hand. It seems that companies that operate online count on working remotely as a solution that will help their businesses to keep running while taking care of the health safety of their employees. 

In the past few days, business owners of all types of companies (from small start-ups to big corporations) have sent their employees to work from home in order to prevent further spread of the Coronavirus. This measure is considered as a small victory in the war against the Coronavirus. Through the work-from-home option, employees will be less exposed to potential carriers of the virus and will be able to protect the society from further escalation of the situation. 

At the beginning of this week, some of the major companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple have announced that they are letting their employees work from home, due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus. To those of you who are reading this article and are not fully aware of what Coronavirus exactly is, or how to protect yourselves from it, continue reading the following sections. Below, you will also discover advice on how to make working remotely more productive, and you will be able to find out which companies released free-to-use tools for online working during the period of Coronavirus.

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain of coronaviruses (CoV) that has not been identified in humans before, and that first appeared in December 2019 in Wuhan (China). Coronaviruses are already known to cause illnesses from a simple cold to more severe diseases like the ones from the past years: MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease that can be transmitted between animals and people. It is believed that the Coronavirus was transmitted from an animal onto a human being in the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan (China).  

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO): “Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.” To prevent the infection from spreading, people must wash their hands regularly, cover their mouths and noses when sneezing or coughing, and they need to eat only thoroughly cooked meat and eggs. Furthermore, people are advised to avoid any contact with people who show symptoms of respiratory illness. 

Advice for Protection from the Coronavirus

Since the Coronavirus shows symptoms as a regular cold, people need to take precautionary measures in order to protect themselves from getting the virus. Below are given important advice from the WHO that people need to do and avoid the spread of the coronavirus:

Keep hands away from eyes, mouth, and nose – One of the most important advice is to avoid touching eyes, mouth and nose with hands because the hands can easily transfer the virus if they are contaminated. 

Wash hands regularly – People need to wash their hands frequently either with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub, and therefore kill all possible viruses that are on their hands. 

Keep a social distance from others – When someone is coughing or sneezing, people need to make sure to maintain a social distance from them of at least one meter (three feet). This distance is preferable because the small liquid droplets in the sneeze or cough may contain the Coronavirus and can be breathed in, thus transferring the disease to another person.

Practice respiratory hygiene – This means that people should always cover their mouths and noses when coughing or sneezing either with tissues or with their bent elbows to avoid spreading the virus through their small liquid droplets.

Seek medical help – People who have a fever, a cough, or a breathing difficulty must seek medical attention. To do so, they need to follow the directions given by local authorities and call in advance so that the health care provider can direct them to the appropriate health facility that deals with Coronavirus.

To stay up to date with the latest development of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), follow the news published by the WHO or by local authorities in the country. Moreover, to discover more about the precautionary measures against the Coronavirus, click this link and find out about the protection against it, as instructed by the WHO.

Using Technology and Work from Home against the Coronavirus

Within the last few days, big corporations such as Google, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft have decided to allow their employees to work from home, due to the increased number of Coronavirus cases. Google decided to close its offices in China and canceled traveling to mainland China. They also sent employees from their Dublin office to work from home. Similarly, Amazon restricted traveling to and from China and required people who had to travel to stay at home and work remotely for a period of two weeks after the trip. They also told their employees in Seattle to work from home till the end of March. The same decision may soon apply to Amazon’s offices in New Jersey and New York. Moreover, Microsoft told its employees in China to work from home.

Furthermore, Apple restricted all trips to and from China and shut down all stores and offices there. Their CEO also allowed employees all over the world to work from home. Twitter sent all of its employees to work remotely and suspended all events and business trips. Facebook closed the offices in China and allowed its employees to work from home. Spotify also allowed its employees to work from home for two weeks.

In addition to the decisions for working remotely, big organizations decided to aid the remote work by offering free collaboration tools for online use. Google even announced that they offer their free tools Google Hangouts Meet, Google Drive, Google Suite to everyone in need. Microsoft also allowed free usage of its products Microsoft Teams and Skype. In addition to these basic tools of Google and Microsoft that many people use on a daily basis, other tech companies have also made their products available to employees who decided to work from home. Take a look at the list we offer below to discover the top ten free-to-use tools of our choice for working remotely:

Google Hangouts Meet – Video conferencing tool offered to schools and businesses to keep them connected in the time of Coronavirus.

Google Drive (and Google Suite) – Team collaboration platforms that allow coworkers to share and work on the same docs, spreadsheets, and presentation documents.

Microsoft Teams – Teamwork hub in Office 365 that keeps in one place the team’s chats, meetings, files, and apps.

Skype – Microsoft’s platform for video conferencing. 

Slack – Collaboration hub that offers communication and tools in one place for remote employees and helps them stay productive regardless of their work location.

Toggl – Time tracker that measures the time spent working on a particular task.

Zoom – Cloud platform for online video communication which has lifted the limit on its free version in China due to the Coronavirus.

Webex – Collaboration platform that has expanded its free offer in all countries where it is available.

Dropbox – Smart workspace that offers file storage and sharing options.

One Drive – Microsoft’s personal cloud storage.

To discover a list of other technologies that are made available during the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), click here and get a full list of all products that can be used when working remotely.

Tips for Better Management When Working Remotely

  1. Create and follow a schedule of tasks for each day of the week.
  2. Assemble meetings one after another without losing time in between.
  3. Change the home-office environment every day, if possible, to avoid feeling suffocated by spending all days in one room.
  4. Do not work while wearing pajamas!
  5. Plan your work breaks ahead and take them regularly.
  6. Get used to receiving audio and video calls from other team members in order to stay in contact with them at least once per day.
  7. Work uninterruptedly with the “Do Not Disturb” option.
  8. Find ways that will help you increase your productivity (listening to loud music, watching your favorite series during the break, or working out for 15 minutes in between meetings).

When working remotely, employees need to plan ahead and get well organized, because the line between working and procrastinating can be very thin. Here are some tricks that will help employees get their work from home done:

We all know that working remotely may have its own pros and cons, but in a situation like this one, the best thing we can do is put into practice all of these tips and try to implement this work-from-home policy. Cosmic Development is one of the companies that allowed its employees to work remotely during the period of Coronavirus. Let us all hope that these types of precautionary measures will help us in the war against Coronavirus and that soon we will become victorious and get back to our daily activities. Till then, follow the WHO’s advice and make sure you are smarter than the Coronavirus.