Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic is still a learning process for Hong Kong, just as it is elsewhere, but typhoons are quite another matter. Several powerful storms bear down on the region each year and the experience of past disasters coupled with infrastructure of a high standard ensures their impact is minimal. So, while Severe Tropical Storm Higos prompted the raising of the second-highest warning, the No 9 signal, there were only a handful of minor injuries, a few dozen downed trees and two instances of minor flooding. Unexpected, though, was the debate sparked about whether people already working from home as a precaution against the latest coronavirus outbreak should have taken time off, as would usually have happened. Hong Kong is perhaps living through its most challenging period and many companies are suffering financially. Their operations have been repeatedly disrupted, first by a year of political unrest that has been coupled with the United States’ trade war against China and Washington’s recent scrapping of the city’s special trading status, and since February, restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Higos has added to the frustration, bringing a further half day of lost business and productivity through the No 9 and No 8 warning signals being consecutively in effect for about 10 hours until 11.30am yesterday. Shops, restaurants and offices followed government guidelines and remained closed to ensure staff and customers stayed at home and out of harm’s way. The same thinking has gone into the social-distancing rules to protect against Covid-19; the fewer people in public, the less risk of them being put in danger of catching and spreading the disease. Among those measures has been encouraging firms to have employees work from home, and technology has come to the fore in enabling operations to run much as before. Some were therefore bound to not think twice about their job duties yesterday morning despite the strong wind and heavy rain. But others were mindful of the No 8 and higher storm alerts meaning employees are encouraged to remain at home and protect themselves and their property. There are no laws on whether staff should work during a severe storm, only Labour Department guidelines that make any such arrangement an agreement between employer and staff. But firms are well aware of the importance of safety and they closely follow the government’s advice. But that is during normal times and the days we are living through are far from normal. While people working from home need to ensure they and their homes are safe and secure during a typhoon, they also have to be aware of the financial strains their employers are under. If they can also be productive by carrying out their usual duties, they should do their best.