With the coronavirus outbreak making headlines all over the world, an increasing number of businesses are asking their employees to work from home.
Google’s parent company Alphabet “requested” its tens of thousands of workers across North America set up office elsewhere until at least 10 April.
Social-media giant Twitter has made it “mandatory” for all staff in its 35 offices worldwide to work remotely.
Such measures have not been enforced in the UK, however, employees at HSBC were sent home after a member of staff in its Canary Wharf office tested positive for the circulating Covid-19 coronavirus strain.
While working from home may be commonplace for many freelancers, those used to a bustling open-place office could find the experience isolating and unnerving.
Latest coronavirus news, updates and advice
Covid-19 is thought to have emerged from a seafood and live animal market in the Chinese city Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, at the end of last year.
It has since been identified in more than 100 countries across every inhabited continent.
More than 128,000 people have tested positive for the virus, of which over 69,000 have since “recovered”.
The outbreak appears to have “curbed” in its epicentre, with cases in China plateauing since the end of February and just eight new patients coming to light on Thursday.
The “pandemic” is taking hold elsewhere, however, with Italy alone having had more than 12,000 confirmed cases and over 1,000 deaths.
Globally, the death toll has exceeded 4,700.
In the UK, more than 29,000 tests have been carried out, with 596 coming back positive and 10 deaths.
How to cope if ‘forced’ to work from home due to the coronavirus Covid-19
Working alone in an empty house can feel eery.
Experts are therefore encouraging people keep up-to-date with their boss and colleagues via regular phone calls.
“Have really clear-set expectations for communications day-to-day,” Professor Barbara Larson from Northeastern University in Boston told the BBC.
“Ask [your manager] if they don’t mind having a 10-minute call to kick off the day and wrap up the day.”
With many workers seeing colleagues as friends, setting up remotely can make people miss the social side of going into the office.
“If you need to isolate for quarantine purposes remember we live in the digital age,” said psychotherapist Noel McDermott.
“The virus does not transmit across the phone or by text; it doesn’t jump out a computer screen during a Skype call; stay in touch”.
While it may sound far-fetched, Professor Larson is not beyond workers sharing a virtual glass of wine over Skype after a busy day.
“It’s a good way to bond – it’s kind of weird, but everyone’s feeling weird [amid the coronavirus outbreak], so it’s fun,” she said.
Professor Larson also recommends colleagues continue to acknowledge each others’ birthdays, personal milestones and work achievements.
While it may be tempting to lounge in your pjs all day, experts universally advise workers get dressed and set up an “office” at home.
Depending on the size of your place, this would ideally be in a little-used room with a door you can close when you “clock off”.
Patients testing positive for Covid-19 are being urged to “self isolate” for 14 days, while those with the tell-tale symptoms – fever, cough and slight breathlessness – should stay indoors for at least a week.
For everyone else, break up the day by getting some fresh air and going for a walk.
Feeling cooped up can lead to panic.
While it may be easier said than done, experts stress fretting is futile.
“You can control how much you check the news and your response to the story.
“If you’re feeling very anxious, practice some self-care with whatever works for you – going for a walk, having a long bath – to reset an anxious mind”.
What is the new coronavirus Covid-19?
Coronaviruses are a class of viruses, with Covid-19 one of seven strains that are known to infect humans.
Others cause the common cold, as well as severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), which killed 774 people during its 2002/3 outbreak.
Most of those who initially caught Covid-19 worked at, or visited, the “wet market” in Wuhan.
The virus mainly spreads via infected droplets that have been coughed or sneezed out by a patient.
There is also evidence it may be transmitted in faeces and urine.
Early data suggests four out of five cases are mild, with a patient’s immune system naturally fighting off the virus.
In severe cases, pneumonia can come about when the infection causes the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs to become inflamed and filled with fluid or pus.
The lungs then struggle to draw in air, resulting in reduced oxygen in the bloodstream.
Patients who are succumbing to the infection tend to be elderly or have underlying health concerns.
Covid-19 has no “set” treatment.
People requiring hospitalisation are offered “supportive care”, like ventilation, while their immune system gets to work.
To prevent infection, officials are urging regular hand-washing and social distancing.