In the past few weeks, the outbreak of coronavirus has become an increasingly severe and tragic concern. NHS England has in the past few hours declared it a level four incident, which is the highest level in emergency planning. As a result, the government has encouraged people to work from home. With many being advised to self-isolate to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and people wanting to minimise contact and risk, remote working does seem like the sensible choice. But while remote working has certainly grown in popularity in recent years, it’s not familiar territory to all. If you want to find out about how you can maintain productivity when working from home, read on.
Will coronavirus mean you have to work from home?
According to recent advice from sources like the World Health Organization, a lot of people won’t experience severe symptoms even if they catch coronavirus. But that doesn’t mean that we should put it out of our minds. Even if you’re fit and healthy, taking unnecessary risks is never advisable. And there are other people’s wellbeings to consider too. Anything we can do to stem the spread of coronavirus is a positive. That means that if you can avoid spending extended periods of time in public places, it might be a good idea to do so. Schools, universities and offices are often breeding grounds for illnesses, with so many people coming together and often sharing cooking utensils, stationery and so on. Even commutes are notoriously risky places when it comes to germs.
But of course, having to stay off work isn’t always simple. Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has rightly insisted that any workers who don’t automatically receive sick-pay should not have to go without an income if they decide to self-isolate to protect themselves and others. Employers’ reluctance to pay employees who aren’t in the workplace shouldn’t place the entire staff at risk. But going without pay can, of course, pose its own threat to health. People need to eat, pay for hot water, heat their homes, see in the dark… And while there are certainly roles which cannot be performed from home – like cooking, waiting tables or operating a cash register – many can.
If many of your tasks could be completed from a work laptop you can take home, or your own computer, then it’s definitely something to consider. Likewise, if you employ people who might be able to get stuff done at home, you might think about offering this option.
What if collaboration is integral to your work?
Sometimes it isn’t only the nature of the work that makes people doubt whether they could work remotely. Even roles which aren’t at all manual or customer-facing can seem ill-suited to working from home. A lot of people’s work is predominantly team-based. It can be daunting, if not altogether unthinkable, to strike out on your own.
But actually, that doesn’t need to be an issue. There are so many great communication tools for remote teams. It’s just a case of assessing your needs, and finding the best fit.
Equally, though, companies may be reluctant to invest in digital solutions that they might not continue to use if the outbreak is quelled. There may also be people who aren’t totally up to speed with technology. They might not want to have to spend time learning to use fancy new tools when they could be working. And there are teams which really need to speak to one another, verbally bounce ideas around, to get the creative juices flowing. Instant messaging can’t always live up to spoken conversation.
Luckily, there are solutions to all of these obstacles. In fact, there’s one solution for them all. Free, easy-to-use conference calls.Create a FREE Teleconference
Will daily conference calls cut into the budget?
This is a reasonable question. Although health and safety are the top priority, and employers care about their employees’ wellbeings, businesses essentially operate to make money. Even charities and non-profits have to think carefully about budgeting, to maximise their ability to do good. The fact that these organisations (who clearly don’t want to shell out on luxurious, high-tech solutions) use conference calling to stay in touch and save money speaks volumes. The bottom line is that conference calling doesn’t have to cost your organisation a penny.
By choosing WHYPAY? as your teleconferencing bridge, you can breathe easy knowing the calls are free for the host and for all your newly-remote workers. If you opt for the free plan, WHYPAY? provides its service totally free of charge. It might sound too good to be true… So if you feel your eyebrows raising, we’ve explained how this business model can work here.
03 is the magic number
And 03 is the prefix of all our dial-in numbers. A dial-in number is the telephone number you’ll call to join the conference call. Because ours start with 03, they have to be charged at the standard landline rate according to Ofcom rules. For the vast majority of UK callers, that essentially means the calls are free. That’s because nowadays, most phone contracts include calls to standard landlines within the callers’ bundled minutes. Whether they’re calling from their home phones or their mobiles, your employees won’t part with any cash to join your audio meeting.
Will it take time to set up conference calling for remote workers?
Another concern is that implementing a whole new communication technique will be difficult. If you’re trying to maintain business as usual, the last thing you want is a big, stressful distraction.
Even people who do hold regular conference calls might be wondering about how to make the switch to teleconferencing from home. Many of us are used to creating and operating conference calls via the office phones in our workplaces. You might even be really clued up on using sophisticated conference call phones.
Being separated from your office’s equipment and the particular conference call system you have there doesn’t need to be an obstacle to self-isolation, though. It’s as simple as setting up a WHYPAY? account. That is to say, very simple indeed.
To get started, just click the button below or head to the homepage and click to ‘Create a FREE Conference’.Create a FREE Teleconference
You’ll just need to provide a few basic details, and you’ll have your very own conference call room. It really is that quick. We’ll give you the access details, and you’re good to go. You can conference call for as long as you like, as often as you like, with up to fifty participants. And they can all join from whatever phone they have handy! Which brings us to our next point…
Will employees working from home need special equipment?
This is a fair question. As we mentioned, a lot of us are familiar with conference calling as something we do over a high-tech spider phone in the board-room. Even a less elaborate office desk-phone is not necessarily something we have at home. But again, with WHYPAY? this isn’t a problem.
All of our teleconferences can be easily, quickly and freely accessed via any mobile or landline. As long as they can access one of these, they can participate in the audio meetings. So even if your company doesn’t usually operate remotely, there’s no reason you can’t adapt to reduce the spread of coronavirus. You won’t need to provide any extra training or equipment to employees you allow to self-quarantine.
How to dial into a WHYPAY? teleconference
Joining a WHYPAY? conference call is straightforward. You just need the three numbers we provide when the audio meeting room is generated. You can find these by navigating to your dashboard from the WHYPAY? website. They’ll also be in the handy calendar attachment we provide, so that you and anyone who receives an automated invitation (you choose your invitees, of course!) can easily schedule the call in their existing calendar software.
As you can tell, WHYPAY? easily integrates with all the normal procedures and systems you already use. You can even schedule your conference call from Outlook, if that’s what your team is most accustomed to.
However you decide to schedule your teleconference, joining it will be really easy. If you do have a calendar event for it, be it from Outlook or any other system or software, you’ll probably be able to join with a couple of taps when the reminder pops up on your phone.
First, call the dial-in number as you would any normal phone number. When prompted, enter your unique conference room number into your phone’s keypad. That will ensure you’re directed to the right ‘room’, where you’ll ‘meet’ your colleagues. To get in the room, you’ll need the secure PIN we provide to guarantee security and privacy. Once you’ve entered these three numbers into your phone, you’re in! Calls are unlimited in duration, so you can talk for as long as you like. All you need is any kind of phone with a keypad to join a WHYPAY? conference call.
If your team is really comfortable with Skype, they can also dial into WHYPAY? teleconferences via Skype. We really do fit in with your current practice! You don’t need to make any changes to make the most of conference calling.
Is conference calling secure and reliable?
Another concern that can arise for people who don’t often work remotely is whether communications tools can really be trusted. The two major questions tend to be whether it can be relied upon to work properly and consistently, and whether privacy is guaranteed.
These are valid and important questions. If you’re suddenly conducting business remotely as people self-quarantine to guard against coronavirus, you might find yourself discussing things over the phone that you’d normally only talk about in face to face meetings. You want to be sure that people aren’t listening in.
That’s why we make sure every conference call is accessed with its own room number and a secure PIN. It gives peace of mind that people can’t stumble in to the wrong audio meeting, even by accident. If you want to be really confident of who’s on the call at all times, and who has control over its features, you can also opt for WHYPAY?’s Plus package. For just £4 a month, it adds a bundle of moderator controls that are really handy.
Even a simple tool like participant announcements can make a huge difference. By switching it on, you’ll be sure that you know who’s on the call at any given moment. It also gives different PINs to the hosts versus the invitees, so that hosts have maximum control over the call, and can even guarantee invitees don’t join until a certain time. That way, you can discuss any confidential or sensitive topics with partners beforehand. If you still want to take a couple of extra precautions, there are a few other steps you can take to ensure your conference calls are as secure as possible.
Even if you know your information is safe, or you don’t discuss anything private during audio meetings, you want to know you can depend upon the conference call provider. You don’t want to be in the middle of a promising and exciting exchange of ideas and be cut out. Nor do you want a teleconference that’s tricky and temperamental to join, as many are.
In fact, these kinds of glitches and poorly-run systems have for some earned conference calls a bad reputation. The fact many people consider conference calls a waste of time might be part of the reason your workplace hasn’t fully embraced remote working. It’s not entirely surprising. A study by LoopUp found that people spend on average 15 minutes just trying to get everybody on the call. Many then also have trouble staying on the line, with the call dropping out or having really bad signal.
But with WHYPAY?, you don’t need to worry about these technical issues. Nor do you have to take our word for it. Thanks to sites like Trustpilot, our users are able to tell you for themselves how smooth and seamless WHYPAY? audio meetings are.
If you look over WHYPAY?’s reviews, you’ll see how many people reference its ease of use. There are also lots of mentions, like this one posted yesterday, of the clarity of the lines. We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but we’re happy for others to: two days ago, one user did even refer to the lines as ‘crystal clear’. And this person made the astute point that not only is the service ‘excellent’ and ‘really easy to use’, but even spared 50 miles of travel. That’s great for their time, their pockets, the planet, and for avoiding the spread of germs and illness.
Advice for rookie conference callers
Even if the logistics of setting up conference calls for workers self-isolating in the face of coronavirus are quite simple, there’s still the matter of actually participating in the call. Organising the call and scheduling it in your calendar is easy enough. Dialling into the call and getting in the conference call room is straightforward, too. But what about what happens after that?
On the face of it, conference calling is easy. After all, you’re basically just talking. And most of us have been calling people since we could talk (or even before…) and our parents held the phone to our ears to greet grandparents and the like. But there are a few extra things to take into consideration.
A lot of these will become second nature as you get more accustomed to conference calling. For example, with a quick read of our guide and a few teleconferences, you too will feel like a conference call guru with your knack for picking up non-verbal cues over the phone. Simple things like noticing fidgeting or somebody moving away from their phone can speak (or not) volumes.
In fact, you’ll find a lot of useful guides on our blog. While we know how many amazing uses there are for conference calls, and how convenient and easy they can be, we also know that not everybody is so familiar with them. That’s why we take care to make easy-to-follow guides and provide plenty of tips. So if you’re coming to conference calling relatively fresh as you consider working from home to avoid the spread of coronavirus, you’ll find plenty of guidance.
A guide to our guides
If you’re a project manager or team-leader, we’ve covered how to moderate a conference call here, as well as putting together some tips for project management. Plus, you can find advice on how to be a good employer to remote staff.
If you’re in the midst of recruiting new staff and don’t want coronavirus to put your search on hold, you can find out about how to structure interviews over the phone. Likewise, if your interview has been converted into a teleconference, we’ve got advice for preparing for and acing phone interviews as the candidate.
As well as templates for mock interviews, we have template business agendas and tips for planning audio meetings.
And if you’re after advice on general good practice and conference call etiquette, we have you covered. If you have any other questions or doubts, you can browse our blog at ease, have a look at our helpdesk and FAQs, or get in touch with one of our friendly team!
Will coronavirus change how we work?
Hopefully you’ve seen now how easy and convenient teleconferencing can be. And as coronavirus continues to spread and more people opt to work from home, it might become clear to more and more employers how viable an option this is.
We’ve been saying for years that remote work is probably the future. And we certainly haven’t been the only ones. Virgin Media Business recently predicted that 60% of people who currently work in an office will be working from home on a regular basis by 2022. Looking a little further ahead to a somewhat more extreme future, an Office Angels survey found a third of employees believe commuting will be totally unheard of by 2036.
It’s also not without precedent for a crisis to revolutionise the professional landscape. As they considered the long-term impacts of coronavirus in the Financial Times, Andrew Hill and Emma Jacobs recently drew comparisons with the Sars outbreak, or how companies have reacted to natural disasters. They, too, think that the move to work remotely in the face of coronavirus will bring attention to the feasibility of this option even when business is operating as usual.
Accelerating our forward-momentum
Essentially, coronavirus might force us to move toward an inevitable future more rapidly. It’s likely that many employers will embrace remote work in some form sooner or later. By seeing just how simple it could be, coronavirus might make that sooner. But that’s no bad thing.
There are lots of reasons why conferencing calling more and opening the door to a more flexible approach to work is desirable. Perhaps most obviously, it allows for a better work-life balance. People will be able to fit their work into their life, rather than the other way around. Equally vital is the good it does for our planet, by cutting back on unnecessary emissions. At the same time, this will alleviate traffic at peak times, and we might even be able to say goodbye to the notion of ‘rush hour’. After all, do most jobs really need to be completed between the hours of 9 and 5, and in a specific location?
And while in this scenario conference calling could spare employers from having to pay sick pay for incomplete work, by allowing business to continue to run, teleconferences can always save employers lots of money.
Hopefully, the spread of coronavirus is quelled quickly and a cure found. But the wakeup call it might give to some companies may well have a lasting impact.
You don’t need to change how you work, but you can change where you work
The key take-away is that allowing employees to work from home doesn’t need to disrupt or change your normal work. If you use a service like WHYPAY?, you don’t need to make any additional budgetary considerations. You don’t need any new technology. There’s no need to learn to use new systems or platforms. In fact, you can easily integrate it with whatever you use currently, be it Outlook, iOS, Skype, or something else.
Help protect your employees and everyone around them by considering whether they could work remotely. With a simple daily conference call, they can be as in the loop and efficient as ever – even more so, according to many studies.Create a FREE Teleconference
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