COVID-19: How the enterprise is adapting to disruption

From cancelled tech conferences and disrupted supply chains to telecommuting and cybersecurity threats, the enterprise faces a new normal as COVID-19's impact escalates.
Written by Melanie Wachsman, Editor
globe with a mask and text coronavirus
Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As the impact of COVID-19 on the enterprise escalates, employers and employees must adapt to a new normal.

Millions are under lockdown, schools have closed, international travel has halted, global supply chains have been disrupted, and yet, COVID-19 continues on its global path, infecting multiple countries along the way.

In the US, the CDC expects that in the coming months, most of the US population will be exposed to the virus.

The infectious disease was first reported to the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019. By January, it was linked to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses--the same family of viruses responsible for SARS and Middle East respiratory syndrome, as well as some cases of the common cold.

SEE: Coronavirus and its impact on the enterprise (TechRepublic Premium)

As a result, a special WHO committee has declared a public health emergency of international concern, and it's had a serious impact on personal and business lives throughout the world.

As many organizations across the globe employ significant measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, such as cancelling major conferences, enforcing employee travel bans and telecommuting, the C-suite is reminded that it's always a good idea to have updated business continuity and disaster recovery plans at the ready.

Companies must plan and prepare for risks that may be involved with business continuity interruptions such as cancelled business travel plans, ill employees, and possible data loss.

The CDC's interim guidance for business response recommended companies encourage employees at risk of exposure to take sick days; perform routine environmental office cleaning; and institute more flexible work arrangements, which finds many employers managing a remote workforce.

As Jason Cipriani writes in Work from home: 64 expert tips for staying healthy, happy, and productive, "Not only do employees have to learn how to work from home and remain efficient, but managers also have to learn how to effectively lead and manage remote workers."

The challenge of adjusting daily habits, communication styles, and remaining productive is not lost on any remote worker. TechRepublic's Macy Bayern writes in How to manage employees working from home during the coronavirus scare "that working from home does not equate to not working, but it does cause people to work differently." 

Chief of research for Gartner's HR practice Brian Kropp said there is one critical shift managers have to make when working with remote employees: "If you're managing employees who are remote, you have to trust them more without asking them to be transparent with everything that they're doing."

Like any crisis there are opportunities and new ways of doing things that will emerge. As Larry Dignan writes in How coronavirus COVID-19 is accelerating the future of work, "the coronavirus scare may just accelerate changes in work already in play. Collaboration has relied more on video. Travel bans may retool sales and marketing practices as companies realize maybe those cross-country flights for drinks and dinner don't deliver economic returns. And if most of the workforce can work from home without productivity loss, it's going to be hard to justify commercial real estate costs.

"Simply put, the coronavirus scare may just show us a better way to work. How enterprises navigate the coronavirus and changes to work will be telling. One thing is certain: The coronavirus is likely to mean the definition of business, as usual, will change."

The following Coronavirus and its impact on the enterprise ebook is a compilation of the latest information including which tech conferences were canceled, related cybersecurity attacks, remote work tips, tracking and predicting how COVID-19 will spread, and the impact it has on the tech industry.

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