Michael, How Are You Feeling and What Is the Current Situation?
After some days of shock, anger, and stress, I feel better now. Many cities were locked down to prevent from virus spreading for the past weeks. My team members are all good and healthy, that is the most important message at the moment.
Coronavirus Situation in China
Things are under better control now, although the total number of the cases is quite scary. Most of the cases are from Wuhan City, the centre of the outbreak, around 800km from Shanghai. It’s still under complete lockdown. New cases from other cities have become much less recently, because the government has taken strict measures such as putting large cities like Beijing and Shanghai under a similar lockdown for weeks. It will be lifted latest in March.
What Happened to Our Team in China
About a month ago, we’re about to celebrate Chinese New Year. Most of the team members went back to their hometowns. My family was planning to take a cruise ship to Japan. When we heard about the virus outbreak in Wuhan city. It was a big mess, and everyone was panicked. Even before the city lockdown, we informed everyone to stay home and my family cancelled the cruise.
Over the past a few weeks, I’ve been the only person in my family going out to buy necessary food. All restaurants, shopping malls, and schools are closed. You can hardly imagine what’s a city shutdown is like. Although everyone I know is safe, we were living in fear, stress and anxiety for the initial couple of weeks. Thousands of doctors and nurses were deployed to Wuhan to battle the coronavirus. Some got infected and even died.
Working Situation - What We Are Doing Now
We don’t want to sit around and wait. Everyone in our team is still working from home and trying to stay positive and active. Our projects are progressing; a few have been postponed. Luckily, we have a very good ATS and we’re used to video conferences and online workgroups. We’re also organizing webinars to promote the Talentor brand and get attention from candidates and clients. I contacted Michael and Sabine to see if we could do something together to help people in Wuhan. The warm-hearted replies moved me deeply. You and the people around me boosted my faith more than ever that we’ll get through this challenge and be even stronger than before. I think it will take another month or so to restore basic commercial activities in China.
Our Learnings and Advice
What measures can you take in daily business life if the crisis breaks out in your country?
1. Technical Tools
Recruitment Software: Just make sure it’s easily accessible from the cloud as people might not have their work computer with them when quarantined. The only thing they need to stay connected and informed is internet access.
MS Teams (or Slack/Zoom). Currently, we’re using Teams for communication. Those are the best real-time communication tools, in my opinion, combining functions like video meetings, sharing files, organizing project discussions and blog channels. Also, easy it is easy to search the history.
2. Stay Connected
Regular Weekly Meetings. It’s very important everyone feels the pace of work remaining the same and that progress is expected. Home office is not easy for everyone, but sharing the same goalscan be a good motivator.
Video Meetings. It’s always good to “meet” someone for project discussions or feedback. It’s quite depressing when to be isolated, especially at the beginning.
Status Updates. We remain a close community by using Teams/Slack or other social communication tools. Sharing information and following news, giving advice. Make everyone feel they’re not alone. Keeping your team updated is very important when coronavirus is getting closer to your country.
Acting Positive. As we’re not as busy as usual and have some extra time. We can do things that normally we don’t have much time to do. Organize trainings, review candidate presentation templates, sales presentations, map target customers/industries. We have re-shaped our internal practice groups so that each consultant can invest their time on the best-focused candidate networking and industry research.
3. Measures to prevent infection
- If not locked down, reduce the exposure to central air-conditioned public spaces and popular tourist areas.
- Conduct meetings virtually if possible – regardless whether with clients or candidates – and try to reduce personal contact insofar as possible
- Wash your hands several times a day with soap and water or an alcohol-based disinfectant
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue (not your hands) if you cough or sneeze
- Face masks are not effective protection against viruses or bacteria that are transmitted in the air. They can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus through "splashes" of sneezing or coughing.