Michael, how do you feel and what is the situation now?
After some days of shock, angriness and stress, I feel better now. Many cities were locked down to prevent from virus spread for the past weeks. My team members are all good and healthy, that is the most important message at the moment.
Coronavirus Situation at the moment in China
Things are under better control now although you will find the total number of the cases 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 similar lockdown for weeks. But it will be lifted latest in March. As for the source of the virus, no one really knows and there’re rumours around it. Perhaps it will be buried forever.
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 hometown. My family was planning to take a cruise ship to Japan. When we heard the virus outbreak in Wuhan city. It was a big mess, and everyone was panic. Even before the city lockdown, we informed everyone to stay home and my family cancelled the cruise tour.
For the past a few weeks, I’m the only person in my family going out for shopping necessary food. All restaurants, shopping malls, schools are closed. You hardly imagine what’s like as a city shutdown. 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 and wait. Every one of our team is still working from home and trying to stay positive and active. Our projects are progressing, a few 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 Talentor brand and draw attention from candidates and clients. I contacted Michael and Sabine to see if we could do something together to help people in Wuhan. Then the warm-hearted replies make me deeply moved. From you guys and the people around me, I got my faith more than ever that we’ll walk through this challenge and be even stronger than before. I think it will take another month or more 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 being 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 in terms to search history record.
2. Stay connected
Regular Weekly Meetings. It’s very important to let everyone feel the work pace remains the same and the progress is expected. Home office is not easy for everyone but sharing the same targets can be a good motivator.
Video Meetings. It’s always good to “meet” someone for project discussions or feedback. It’s quite depressing when being isolated, especially at the beginning.
Status Updating. We play as a small 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 if 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 something that normally we don’t have much time to do. Organize training, review candidate presentation template, sales presentation, mapping target customer/industry. 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 areas or popular tourist places.
- Do meetings if possible, only virtually – no matter if with clients or with candidates – and try to reduce personal contact to a limit.
- 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. But they can help reduce the risk of spreading the virus through "splashes" of sneezing or coughing. Prepare to have face masks for your family.