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Working from home

This Is What To Consider For A ‘Working From Home’ Policy

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First things first: social distancing

Not coming into the office due to illness, is a good move. Unfortunately, the stigma around calling in sick can turn some off, especially passionate staff. We as leaders need to make it clear that if staff are concerned, they can, and should stay home (and work there if they can). By setting procedures to support them while at home, we may just battle this virus yet.

There is an uncomfortable movement happening in the corporate world right now, and it’s the lack of handshakes.

It’s a crucial step for us all to do our part in minimising the impact of a virus. But it takes some getting used to when dealing with clients or authoritative figures. It’s these new simple, but important requirements that many are starting to pick up.

In Europe, hugging and kissing is a standard greeting. But again, this is one of the best ways to help COVID-19 transmit from person to person. If everyone stayed at least a metre away from each other, this would help considerably.

Globally, many events are being cancelled which can seem drastic to some, like the possible cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics. But at an Auckland concert on April 28th of February, the reason for these cancellations became clear. One man who was recently back from Italy attended the Tool concert at Spark Arena. Standing body to body with thousands of other fans, this one person may have catapulted New Zealand’s infected cases.

Another man in Japan may have knowingly spread the virus in bars after he was told he was infected.

Any strategy which creates distance between people, from no handshake to the cancellation of mass gathering events is classed as social distancing. No matter the situation or awkwardness you may encounter, we’re all in this together and social distancing needs to be the norm in 2020 if we’re to combat COVID-19.

True or false?

A) work from home policy requires all staff to test this before it is required.

B) During an outbreak like COVID-19, all staff should work from home.

C) Thanks to the cloud and remote technology like a laptop, Zoom, Slack and emails, it is easier than ever to work remote.

How did you go answering these? The lesson here is to appreciate that much media hype accredits to poor direction and advice. Working from home (WFH) is more complex than simply setting up your laptop at your kitchen table. There is much to consider.

The answers to the above are:

A) True. But did you consider your IT systemMost IT infrastructures can’t handle 100% of staff working remotely. Testing this before it is needed gives you good insight into your organisations capabilities.

B) False, but if your IT system can handle it, the more people that work from home the better. Staff who are critical to the operation of your organisation should be the first to work from home. Especially if no one else can step into their role and complete the same output.

C) True, it has never been easier, but some teams will struggle to work from home, such as call centre staff, because the technology required to work from home is not necessarily available, specific phones and IT systems to record and administer calls, for example. So each team must examine its own needs and understand who can and cannot work from home and what they need to be able to.

In our continuous monitoring of the ever-developing Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re starting to acknowledge weekly trends. This week its around working from home.

Let’s take this article, as an example, that focuses on the individual understanding what it takes to work from home. There are some fair points in there like cleaning your home, providing adequate breaks, putting on the correct clothing to get into the right mindset.

And although we strongly advise you to consider this option, it’s important to practice it, understand who needs to be working remotely and how your IT infrastructure will handle this. You don’t need to practice it with everyone either to get a lot of feedback.

Leadership considerations

If you’re part of a leadership team having conversations around a WFH policy, there are some questions to consider on behalf of your people.

  • How confident are you in your staff’s internet connection?
  • Do your staff need a VPN set up? Is this stable and ready to go?
  • Will all applications, data and systems work?
  • Do staff need extra gear at home like screens, docking stations, keyboards? (Who will transport these and how will you record inventory?)
  • Do documents need to be printed now, are they confidential?
  • Are all staff members contact details updated and accessible?

Keeping in touch with colleagues is crucial, even if it’s you that’s at home while they still commute in. Set up regular team scrums over a video conference. Set basic agendas where necessary as you want to focus on the same type of conversations you’d have if walking around your workplace.

Keeping sane outside of the office

It is no lie that the treat of working outside of an office environment can ware of very fast. Being in your home from the moment you wake to the moment you sleep can have negative mental effects over prolonged periods.

You can make this environment more comfortable and work ready by:

  • Setting up your workspace the night before (coffee, notepad, clean space, smart clothes).
  • If applicable, take the opportunity to work in your garden/outside.
  • Leave a book out you’re reading, take a break every hour and read a chapter to refresh you mind.
  • Exercise well. Put an hour block in your calendar to get out of the house for a walk or run.
  • Start your day an hour or two earlier. Without the commute, you can now finish early and get all those chores done before the family is home.

If you are in public places at risk of becoming infected with the virus, there are ways you can prepare.

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and dry thoroughly. This is the single biggest strategy that will protect you. Always wash your hands when,
    • You have coughed or sneezed
    • You have been to the toilet
    • Prior to, and after eating
    • After touching any communal space such as an ATM or reception desk
  • Try to avoid touching your face (sounds easy but it really isn’t).
  • Always carry a small hand sanitiser.
  • Facemasks will NOT reduce your risk of contracting the virus, in fact they are counterproductive as they give you a false sense of security and mean that you are less likely to practice the important strategies that can help you. Forgot to wash your hands then removed the mask? Its purpose is now redundant.
  • Avoid public transport.
  • As above, avoid human contact altogether – no handshakes, kissing or hugging. The largest increase in infection was Valentines day this year!
  • If you’re buying lunch/food, assess whether the food is in the open (for example, some cafes have their cakes on the counter, exposed – avoid these).

RiskLogic has now produced dozens of Pandemic Response Plans. We’re working with many new and current clients to review everything from Crisis Management Plans, to Business Continuity.

If you’re considering using our services to help your organisation, now is the time to act as we are getting our highest increase in requests to review or write plans. 

The Resilience Digest