Right now the coronavirus is affecting us at every step – trips, events and gatherings are getting cancelled, goods don’t move in certain directions, schools are being shut down and people quarantined. Companies need to show a lot of creativity and flexibility in order to keep their business running in such limited circumstances.

For those, who can work remotely, it is highly recommended to do so. Those companies who, for whatever reason, have not preferred it, are now forced to give it a try. It will be very interesting to see how many companies continue to allow remote work after the coronavirus outbreak and what their experience was during it. But we’ll be able to look into that later.

For now, here are some things to pay attention to when working remotely:
1) Keep same routine at home as you had at the office. There are two types of employees: some do more household tasks when working from home – they start doing their cleaning and laundry, and some don’t even take off their pyjamas. Others already open their computers at breakfast and only possibly rise from their desks to visit the bathroom. The general advice is to start your work at the same time, take breaks at the same time, and end your work at the same time. In this way you can keep the work-life balance.

2) Don’t leave employees alone! While working from home is a nice change and certainly a kind of holiday extension, working alone at home for two weeks may make some workers feel lonely and may cause their motivation to drop. Managers should be sure to check in with remote employees (by Skype, phone or other means) at least once a day to see how they are doing and keep them informed about workplace developments.

3) Work priorities tend to be forgotten. While working from home, you focus on your assignments. But priorities often change when working together and you need to continuously shift to new problems. A team moves in the same direction and works towards common larger and smaller goals. Working from home often means focusing on completing your own assignments. So it is definitely important to establish everyone’s tasks and priorities every day/week, again using preferred channels (Skype, Slack, e-mail, phone).

4) Communication skills are becoming increasingly important for managers. The task of managers at the moment is not so much to make strategic decisions, as to skilfully share information so that all employees in different parts of Estonia are in the same information field and work towards the same goals and priorities.

The recommendation is to have daily stand-ups*, as they’re known in the startup world, to keep each other up to date with current objectives, obstacles and plans for the coming days. It should be visible/audible to everyone working on the same project.

*Stand-up – A short meeting to inform other team members about the progress of their work. Typically used in IT sectors.

General tips for avoiding coronavirus:
1) Wash your hands with warm water and soap. It is not enough to only wash your hands after visiting the bathroom, but also before eating, smoking, etc.;

2) Use hand sanitiser. Avoid the excessive use of Cutaseptide and other antiseptic products as they will dry out your hands. There are special disinfectant gels that are more skin-friendly. 

3) COVID-19 spreads as a droplet infection, which means that washing and disinfecting hands alone is not enough to avoid the disease. People with symptoms should be kept isolated to the extent possible or asked to go home. Wearing masks should be considered first and foremost by sick people, not healthy ones.