The Conundrum of Working From Home Amid Coronavirus Fears
Companies are preemptively encouraging employees to work from home to prevent coronavirus from spreading.
With new cases of coronavirus cropping up in the U.S. every day, many companies are telling employees to stay home, even if they suspect their sniffles are just a cold and even if they feel perfectly fine, in some cases. "I've been seeing a lot of companies send out emails telling people to stay home if they're sick, which is always good company policy," David Barron, a certified labor employment lawyer at Cozen O'Connor, told Best Life. "And if a worker does test positive for coronavirus, anyone they came into contact with is going to have to stay self-quarantined for two weeks."
"You don't want to lose a whole office because one person came to work sick," he added.
Tech companies—like Google, Amazon, and Twitter—are even encouraging their employees without any symptoms to work from home, just to play it safe. And for these companies, having employees strewn about hasn't been the headache one might imagine. In fact, Twitter's head of human resources, Jennifer Christie, told BuzzFeed News, "People who were reticent to work remotely will find that they really thrive that way. Managers who didn't think they could manage teams that were remote will have a different perspective. I do think we won't go back."
That's good news for some, but not everyone has the option to work from home. Bus drivers, mail carriers, service workers, and those with other jobs that rely on face-to-face interaction are faced with a difficult conundrum: come into work or lose a paycheck.
"It's one thing to ask your boss to stay home as a reasonable accommodation," Barron said. "But taking it one step further and asking them to pay you is going to be a harder sell for a lot of companies."
According to Barron, if droves of people can't afford to stay home, that doesn't spell great things for limiting the spread of coronavirus. "Employers are going to say that they don't want to have to bear the brunt of the virus, so there would have to be a governmental solution to that," he said.
So if you can work from home right now, you should. If not for your sake, then for the sake of all of the people who can't.