A Guide to Remote Working for the Supply Chain Sector

What Impact has Coronavirus had on the Hong Kong Supply Chain Sector?

Health care systems and health organisations worldwide have been caught off guard by the outbreak of the Coronavirus, with businesses in Hong Kong no exception. The World Health Organisation (WHO), has officially declared the outbreak a global emergency and have provided a swift response in turn. Steps have been taken by the WHO to coordinate with national health services in a bid to reduce the risk of the infection spreading as much as possible by providing resources, advice and information on how best to keep people safe in the face of this disease. It’s been almost 17 years since the last global pandemic in the form of the SARS breakout, and thankfully, medicine and technology have improved astronomically since. 

Downtime and long periods of inactivity are entirely detrimental to supply chain operations, and the impact is almost unavoidable. This means that supply chain firms in Hong Kong must act fast to defend their whole operations from the coronavirus and its lasting effect once it inevitably dissipates. Similarly, firms must protect their employees from dangerous working conditions in the interim. 

The WHO’s website has an abundance of information and advice aimed at lessening the chance of infection spreading by following basic rules, like regular hand washing, disinfecting surfaces and workspaces, however, self-quarantine is considered the preferred method of protection. 

Many large corporations have ceased trading worldwide until the coronavirus is contained; however, this isn’t an option for many businesses. Furthermore, some firms have contingency plans in place for such an occasion and have executed remote working plans across their company; again, this is only viable for specific industries. 

Remote working allows employees the option to continue regular working functionalities from the safety of their own home, allowing them to self-quarantine without it being a detriment to their employer. These kinds of flexible working conditions have opened up a vast range of options to companies looking to diversify the way they maintain productivity in the face of less than ideal circumstances, something which supply chains in Hong Kong, can take full advantage of. 

Of course, some roles within supply chains are unable to utilise remote working options and require a physical presence. However, administration and other office-based positions can very quickly implement remote working plans. By keeping warehouses and spaces reserved for necessary personnel, you can reduce the risk of infection hugely. You can reduce this risk further by following the guidelines on cleanliness on the WHO website. 

For those roles that can move into a remote working plan, we’ve provided some key aspects to cover to ensure it’s a complete success.

Support from Management

There is a very thin line to tread between allowing employee automation and neglecting your employees. For your workforce to carry on their regular duties, they must be trusted with a certain level of freedom, but ensure you leave in place a transparent system for employees to seek guidance and support from their managers. Regular working communication helps employees and management stay on track with targets, customer service and morale. When implementing a remote workforce, you must ensure that everyone is on the same page; this includes those employees still working from the usual workplace. 

Clear Structural Planning

When creating your remote working plan, each employee must know their role well and be confident enough to complete their tasks without ambiguity or confusion. If someone can’t complete their usual work from remote space, make sure management informs them of their new responsibilities and how they can best approach them from a remote setting. This clarity will provide some much-needed relief in a time of much displacement. 

Utilise Bespoke Remote Working Resources

As remote working has become so popular with the modern workforce, the amount of tools, software and resources available is fantastic. There are tools for file sharing, video conferencing, instant messaging and even time tracking. For a workforce to be productive, autonomous and happy, you should invest in some remote working tools. These types of products are not expensive, and even the more costly software is worth its weight in gold. 

The hardware available to your employees is essential also, before sending your employees to work from home, check they have everything they need, such as computers, laptops and internet connections. If your employees are well equipped, productivity disruption should be minimal. 

Contact is Key

Similar to the first point, communication between colleagues and employees is crucial. It’s very easy to feel alone and out of the loop when remote working, especially when it’s an abnormal working space. In times of crisis, the welfare of your employees is paramount, so make a proactive effort to contact them regularly, not just in a professional capacity, but in a personal one too. Ensure that nobody is left alone without any help or support. Not only will your employees thank you for it, but the industry will also recognise the efforts made by your company and your brand will shine as a result. 

The coronavirus will impact the supply chain in Hong Kong indefinitely, and the effects may last a long time. However, implementing a remote working plan during this time will reduce the time it takes to restore your business to its standard operating procedures. You will soon be able to recommence with a healthy, happy and appreciative workforce.

Get in touch for expert advice

In challenging times, it is more important than ever to manage your most effective resource: people. Benefit from expert advice, get in touch with us to discuss how to attract and retain supply chain and procurement talent.