Impact of coronavirus on UK workforce still unknown, but as government plans for the worst, employers can, too

As coronavirus continues to spread and fear of an impending outbreak grows, data shows that up to one-fifth of employees in the UK may be absent from work during peak weeks. It seems no country or economy is coming out unscathed from this epidemic, and the UK is no exception.

If the virus continues to spread rapidly throughout the UK, the government will put phase two of its four-stage plan into action in an effort to delay the virus spreading.

The government has a four-stage plan: contain, delay, research and mitigate. As of now, the country remains in the first phase, but should it reach the second, the government has clearly laid out potential restrictions.

“Action that would be considered could include population distancing strategies (such as school closures, encouraging greater home working, reducing the number of large-scale gatherings) to slow the spread of the disease throughout the population, while ensuring the country’s ability to continue to run as normally as possible,” according to the UK’s government website.

Now is the time for employers and business owners to make a plan of action. Whether they’re dealing with a high absenteeism rate, or decide to enforce a strict work-from-home policy, it’s essential for businesses to assess their situation. Some employers might worry about just how productive employees will be when working from home, or if they’ll really work at all. But if that’s a true concern, it’s one that shouldn’t only be associated with working remotely as employees can just as easily sit in the office in front of a computer without being productive, too.

“Employers should trust their employees are working, whether they’re in the office or not. If they are truly worried about this issue, employers can see how many hours were worked (and from where they were registered) if using a cloud-based time tracking system,” said Elena Benito, CMO of the time tracking tool BeeBole Timesheet. “Presenteeism and absenteeism are very much alive and well in today’s work culture, so remote or not, the real key is being able to measure productivity in other ways. Remote working is not the enemy.”

Once companies have decided to ask their employees to work from home, there is much to consider, including what equipment employees should use, security measures to take, and how to maintain a strong line of communication.

Employers should also consider how they’re currently tracking work attendance and absences and how that method would need to change when workers start working from home. A company using a biometric time tracking system, for example, should strongly consider finding a cloud-based program that employees could use no matter where they are.

Feeling comfortable with managing a remote team is also important. A web-based time tracking system would allow employees to clock in and out from anywhere, safely saving all of that data in the cloud. Employers would be able to check their employees’ timesheets at the end of each week, and keep an eye on everyone’s workload to make sure business is running as usual.

It’s uncertain how long employees might be asked to work from home, so putting a system like this in place is a fundamental preventative step.

To be clear, the impact of the coronavirus in the UK is still undetermined, though businesses and economies worldwide are certainly taking a hit. As the UK continues to collect information and prepare for the next phase in its action plan, businesses should do the same.

Press release distributed by Pressat on behalf of BeeBole Timesheet, on Tuesday 17 March, 2020. For more information subscribe and follow

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Impact of coronavirus on UK workforce still unknown, but as government plans for the worst, employers can, too