COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, is forcing businesses around the globe to embrace remote work – whether or not they’re ready.

Already, the fast-spreading virus has had a $160 billion estimated impact on the global economy. With new cases cropping up daily, Chinese officials are taking precautionary measures to keep people at home so they can curb the spread of the disease. Dozens of cities have been put on lockdown. In Hong Kong, the government ordered employees to work from home for at least three weeks and many private employers have followed its example, while schools remain shut until March 16th at the earliest. With new cases reported across North America and Europe, these widespread closures could reach the Western Hemisphere next.

While remote work has been on the rise globally for some time, the recent outbreak is prompting widespread adoption of work-from-home policies. Yet many are realizing they don’t have effective technologies in place. As a result, businesses across China are rushing to implement communication tools to help employees and clients stay connected, even if they can’t be face-to-face.

Even for businesses that aren’t impacted by the outbreak, the coronavirus serves as a wakeup call to put plans in place to support business continuity in the face of disruptions. Here’s how to prepare your business not just for disruptions, but for the future of work.

Getting Remote Work Right

Remote work has been on the rise for years, with 43% of Americans working remotely all or some of the time. But for businesses that are new to remote working, have stringent privacy policies or need to manage large amounts of complex documentation, just getting started can seem like a daunting task. Businesses in mainland China report everyday tasks and processes taking longer and longer to accomplish as they juggle with a variety of systems in the place of face-to-face contact.

When it’s done right, however, the benefits of remote work can be great, including:

The key to integrating remote working successfully is adopting the right technology to make it possible. Scrambling to piece together remote working solutions when an emergency occurs leads to ineffective workflows and lost productivity. Businesses need to prepare before disaster strikes, so they can effectively anticipate how and when to work remotely – and which tools to use.

How to Get Started

What does your team need to make sure remote work actually works? Consider these questions when choosing technology:

  • “How can I get everything I need to get our work done in one hub?” Sales of videoconferencing software are on the rise in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, but collaborating remotely goes beyond just phone calls. Bringing all the tools your team needs into a centralized platform can help alleviate context switching and keep them productive, even when they’re away from the office. In addition to one-click videoconferencing, Workstorm offers secure messaging, file sharing and more in one powerful platform. The platform comes with integrations for email and calendar out of the box, and businesses can integrate other business-critical software effortlessly through our API. Additionally, cloud-based deployment options also mean your team can access important files and correspondence from anywhere, anytime.
  • “How will I effectively connect internal and external colleagues?” Some platforms support communication between coworkers, but your team likely also needs to stay connected to outside individuals and businesses, like clients and vendors. With Workstorm, you can invite external collaborators into the platform easily, while protecting privacy and client confidentiality. Conversations are private by default and external users are automatically flagged, so those conversations can be identified easily.
  • How do I ensure my data remains private and secure?” Before you adopt a new communication platform, make sure you know what vendors are doing with your data. Businesses spend up to $44 billion a year on accessing data, and some of these companies are monetizing your data. Third-party integrations and security weaknesses can also compromise data if not managed correctly. Workstorm allows for highly secure sharing and collaboration on sensitive files, like legal documents. We’re also deeply committed to data privacy, and won’t ever share or sell user data.

A Remote Path To Success 

Regardless of whether there are major business disruptions occurring, like a public health crisis, establishing remote working capabilities now can help prepare your business for the digital workplace of the future. Beyond improvement in worker morale and the ease of communicating even from afar, digital communication hubs allow you a far greater breadth of flexibility if disruptions take place. Workstorm centralizes your work in a way that lets you focus on business as usual, with your teammates, no matter where you are in the world.

To learn more about the coronavirus, visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control.