Flexible working Can Help Stop the Spread of Coronavirus

Global pandemics may be rare, but the recent coronavirus outbreak demonstrates that communities are still vulnerable to health scares which can have global implications. Emergency measures, such as those seen in the Chinese city of Wuhan, have spread to a countrywide lockdown, travel restrictions and a global fear of proximity to anyone who may be a potential source of infection. With many professionals being forced to work from home to help with containment, flexible working has been used to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.

Coronavirus forces many to work from home

Whilst recent history tells us that most infectious diseases are inevitably brought under control, the short-term impact on those indirectly affected by the outbreak in terms of work and travel has also challenged even the most rigid working cultures. Hong Kong is an example where the coronavirus outbreak has forced a rethink in to how a modern metropolis keeps functioning in a country trying to reduce the movement of its population.

As arguably one of the most international cities in the world, where the daily commute for its millions of office workers is a fixed ritual, many residents are now being told to adopt flexible working plans to minimise movement and person-to-person interaction. In an attempt to help stop the spread of Coronavirus, many public sector workers are being told to work from home for the first time in their working lives. In addition a large number of private companies have told employees who have interacted with anyone from the mainland to stay home for at least 14 days.

In a pre-laptop world and before the arrival of universal internet, the fate of cities like Hong Kong in reacting to such physical restrictions would have seen the city grind to a halt. The introduction of forced, flexible working in Hong Kong may be something of a watershed moment for the city and for those companies that do not already have flexible working plans in place.

A flexible working revolution?

Although the underlying seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak cannot be disregarded, the reaction of China’s workforce to be able to utilise flexible working to keep the economy moving is a demonstration of the benefit of having such plans in place. Similar responses have also been engaged in several other countries in the fight to help stop the spread of Coronavirus.

Whilst it may initially feel unconventional for those used to commuting to an office each day to work from home, it will be interesting to see how these temporary restrictions impact the longer-term employment cultures for these workers. Whilst not only challenging common working norms it also has wider implications within the households for those traditionally sent to work outside of the home each day. Only time will tell if the benefits of flexible working will be acknowledged beyond the Coronavirus outbreak.

Check out the benefits of flexible working for employers here.