Prevention and Early Intervention in the Context of COVID-19

10th March 2020

The ‘virtual office’ became a popular point of discussion long before COVID-19 (coronavirus disease), with many employers having implemented a flexible working model or at least having this on their radar. The potential changing landscape of the workplace in response to COVID-19 now promotes adoption of a new way of working more than ever before. We are already seeing organisations developing and testing social isolation strategies in line with the Ministry of Health’s New Zealand Influenza Pandemic Plan which has a focus to prevent, delay or prepare for the spread of the virus.  

Prevention is the action of stopping something from happening, engaging means to eliminate risk. Those employers who already have flexible working models in place are more easily able to implement preventative practices to minimise risk of exposure to COVID-19 through social distancing.

Prevention is the action of stopping something from happening

Currently, workplaces are already having to monitor staff who display symptoms that are similar to the common cold and provide time off. A complicating factor to this preventative/early intervention measure is our workplace culture around taking sick leave, with many New Zealanders taking the ‘toughen up’ attitude.

This culture is compounded by the supply-demand issue of leave entitlements not covering the need for leave in relation to colds both for the employee and dependent family members. This is where prevention meets early intervention, as the risk of exposure is already present. Whether prevention or early intervention, exploring how your people can be supported to work from home where possible, in whole or part duties, is the logical proactive approach that all employers should be taking, both in relation to collective social responsibility and sustainability of business. In fact, there is potential ‘to see the forest for the trees’, with an increasing focus on agile work practices within our technology driven society and the availability of virtual project focused communication platforms. A shift in thinking about the 9-5 working day model, is underpinned by the evidenced understanding of increased productivity, effectiveness and enjoyment of work by the employee when being given a flexible work environment (resulting in higher work outputs).

With the everyday challenges outside of the challenge presented through COVID-19 (many employees juggling the needs of dependents, households and personal wellbeing) there is prime opportunity to see this presenting challenge knocking, as the opportunity to look at increasing employee satisfaction, connection and productivity through that ‘virtual office’.  

For free advice on the key considerations and resources available to support a flexible working model, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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