Can Technology Help During A Pandemic?

As of writing this article, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 85,641 cases of the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in 57 countries which have led to 2,933 deaths. The WHO is recommending that people should:

  1. wash their hand frequently
  2. maintain social distancing
  3. avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  4. practice respiratory hygiene
  5. seek medical assistance when needed
  6. stay informed

The above WHO recommendations are both at the individual and societal responsibility levels that each one of us should follow. In today’s hyper-connected global economy, societal responsibility is of the utmost importance. By all indications, COVID-19 which still does not have a vaccine yet is very close to becoming a pandemic. Organizations around the world have a societal responsibility to also help in containing COVID-19 from spreading. While most organizations around the world do not have the resources to monitor for all the recommendations by the WHO but these organizations still can have an impact on helping maintain social distancing and keeping their employees informed.

In terms of helping maintain social distance, organizations can create possibilities for people to work from home even if they are not sick. The incubation period of COVID-19 is 14 days and by the time it is known that an individual is infected s/he might have unknowingly affected others. By having people work from home, organizations can help slow or even stop the spread of COVID-19 within their own organizations. Unless organizations are in an industry that requires physical labor, most of the people around the world sit in front of a computer screen to do their work which means they can work from home. In order to set up people to work from home, organizations need to discuss the possibilities with their Chief Information Officers (CIOs). If your organization is not large enough to have a technology leader on staff then generally speaking, here is what you need to do:

  1. Create your own, buy or subscribe to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service
  2. Create your own, buy or subscribe to a Teleconference service
  3. Remind employees to follow all the same rules of information security at home as if they were working from their work locations
  4. Provide laptops, ipads, and phones as needed for their work
  5. Provide paper, pens, pencils and other stationery as needed for their work
  6. Reimburse them for electricity and mobile service charges (if you can not provide phones) to them
  7. Create a culture of trust

In terms of keeping your employees informed, organizations can help by:

  1. Create open communications across the organization by giving and getting regular updates via email, phone, website, wiki, messaging services, etc. to and from employees
  2. Create a culture of trust

Going back to the original question of if technology can help during a pandemic, the answer is a resounding yes! And while you are creating work-from-home possibilities, keep in mind that you do not need an excuse for a global health crisis to help your employees.

Author: Khan

Speaker | Advisor | Blogger