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Workplace Coronavirus Preparation: Telecommuting Policies & Best Practices

Jeff Griffin

"It has a 9/11-like feel." That's how the CEO of Southwest Airlines last night described the impact of coronavirus on its business. While this might not be a surprising assessment from a global carrier like United Airlines, it's somewhat shocking to hear from Southwest, since it doesn't even serve Asian and European markets.

So what's going on here? Is this coronavirus (Covid-19) really something to fear here in the United States, or is this mass hysteria nothing more than a media-driven panic, as Dr. Drew suggested as recently as this morning on Fox News?

So much distrust of the mainstream media and our government institutions has been sewn into the fabric of our country these past few years that it's admittedly very hard to tell. At this point, it probably doesn't really matter if it's real or not. The perception is that it's real, and as we've been taught for decades now, perception is reality.

In fact, just moments ago, while writing this blog post, the first U.S. college announced it was closing down for the semester, moving 50,000 students to online learning. And as I was adding this to my post, I received an alert that the Mayor of Austin just cancelled the South by Southwest music festival and conference.

I don't know about you, but this feels pretty real to me.

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Topics: wellness, Preventative Care, workplace wellness, Telecommuting

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Coronavirus (Covid-19); Its Impact on Employers, Employees and The Workplace

Jeff Griffin

It's not a matter of if, but when. That's what Federal authorities finally said yesterday regarding the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading across the United States.

Infectious disease experts are now calling on businesses, schools, and communities to brace themselves for what they see as the inevitable outbreak of the coronavirus across the country.

"The disruption to everyday life might be severe," said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Strategies to contain the virus on our shores, now officially named Covid-19, have thus far been based on isolating those who have contracted the virus, as well as quarantining those who may have been exposed to those individuals.

Authorities now admit that as the virus becomes more widespread, containment strategies will likely expand to the closing of schools, the canceling of mass gatherings, and the implementation of widespread telework for employees.

With financial markets across the world tanking and President Trump now scheduled to address the nation tonight, it now appears as if the threat of a global pandemic can no longer be ignored nor minimized by those who have thus far claimed that talk of a pandemic was nothing more than fear-mongering by the media.

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Topics: wellness, Preventative Care, workplace wellness, Telecommuting

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Telecommuting and Employee Mental Health

Jeff Griffin

Telecommuting is becoming increasingly common in the American workforce. Employees usually enjoy this perk because it means less time in traffic and fewer distractions, which leads to more productivity, in addition to more flexibility in caring for children and elders living in the home. Even if it’s only one or two days a week, telecommuting can decrease stress and actually increase productivity. Some employers even prefer it because they can downsize their offices and save money on property costs.

But one of the possible downfalls of telecommuting (especially when employees spend more time at home than in the office) is a feeling of disconnect from their coworkers and a growing sense of loneliness. Employees who feel this way may end up with more mental health issues, needing medication to help regulate depression, experience decreased productivity, or even switch jobs for one that allows them to be back in an office.

If telecommuting is part of your employee benefits package, it’s important for you to understand the effects of loneliness so you can take measured steps to combat them, as well as to prevent them from occurring in the first place.

Loneliness is a Health Hazard

According to a study conducted by Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad, social isolation and the resulting feelings of loneliness are as hazardous to our health as obesity. The study is careful to note that the risk associated with loneliness is from actual social isolation, as well as perceived isolation.

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Topics: Employee Benefits, Company Culture, Flexible Schedules, Telecommuting

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