19, Mar 2020

How to Tackle Coronavirus [COVID-19]: Safety Guide for IT Professionals

Published On: 19, Mar, 2020

Coronavirus [COVID-19] has created a global health emergency, as declared by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Reports indicate that thousands of people have been affected by this virus, and many have died.

(Ref: https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/coronavirus-diseases-comparing-covid-19-sars-mers-numbers-n1150321)

The countries most affected by this disease include China, South Korea, Italy and Iran. Almost entire Europe is impacted by this pandemic and is in a state of lock down. Even in the US, situation is bad.

Businesses all over the world have been impacted due to the virus outbreak. IT companies providing software, website and mobile app development solutions are no exception and have been severely affected. This is because software, website and mobile application development professionals need to travel a lot, and popular offshore destinations like the US, South Korea, the UK, Australia and Japan have been severely affected.

So how will IT executives deal with it?  

Viruses have already caused two major global health emergencies before (SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012), so COVID-19 must be dealt with cautiously with a multipronged approach.

As an initial measure most software firms are trying to avoid sending their employees for on-site projects abroad. In fact, IBM, Microsoft and Google have asked some employees to work from home.

Companies such as Goldman Sachs, Cognizant and Google have temporarily closed several of their corporate offices and are tackling the issue with extreme seriousness. 

Several international IT conferences have already been canceled.

Cancellations include Google News Initiative Summit in California in April, Facebook F8 developer conference in May 2020 and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.

The vice president of Google has said that health of employees and customers remains a priority for the company and thus it went ahead with the cancellation.

GSMA Mobile World Congress was becoming a risky event because of the volume of numbers of displays and numbers of mobile operators, handset makers, equipment providers and internet companies. With a presence of more than a lakh of visitors, the situation could have got out of control.

Let us now talk about the precautions that IT professionals should take to prevent or minimize the effect of COVID 19.

  • Work from home, if possible. With high speed internet and numerous communication and productivity tools around, working from home has become quite convenient these days. Talk to your Manager or HR and explore the options of working from home till the effect of the pandemic subsides.
  • Travel only if you must. Cut down on business travels unless urgent.Those of you considering travel abroad, but are unsure whether you should make it, get travel insurance first. “Cancel for any reason” travel insurance can protect you in case of a sudden cancellation by you or an airline. It will cost a bomb, but that’s ok. In any case, numerous countries have already imposed restrictions on international travels. Hence, there are high chances of your proposed tour getting cancelled anyway.
  • Avoid physical contact with people as much as you can. No handshakes, hugging or high fives.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for cleaning your hands and keep the surfaces around your monitor clean. Sanitizers with more than 60% alcohol content are incredibly useful in killing virus. Wait till a surface gets dry and then resume your work.
  • Apart from hand sanitizers, get used to flu masks and facial tissues. Masks will help to prevent a virus as the result of a sneeze, cough or human contact.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using any standard handwash at regular intervals.
  • Avoid meetings and gathering unless essential. Use Maximize the use of business apps such as Skype or GotoMeeting for group calls remotely.
  • Close down your retail stores and logistic hubs if you have any physical products to sell, as Human contacts are a serious concern in case of COVID-19.
  • Clean up your desks, tables, chairs, floors, washroom, doors, windows and kitchen area as virus problems can occur anywhere.
  • Stop any logistical activity with any Chinese based company and avoid coming in contact with anybody who has visited Hubei province in China. Maintain the same for South Korea, Italy and Iran.
  • If you are the owner or manager, allow sick and older employees to work remotely for a considerable amount of time. Older people and those with pre-existing illness are usually low on immunity and thus highly vulnerable towards COVID-19 infection.
  • Stop sharing your gadgets, even casually. Make it a point to keep your devices personal.
  • Avoid congested places and keep a safe distance from those who are coughing or sneezing. Use gloves wherever possible.
  • Consult your physician whenever you feel sick. Do not try any self-medication or follow advices available freely on Whatsapp and other social platforms.

Follow these guidelines to reduce your chances of getting affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus and stay safe.