As coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to increase, the government is now recommending that everyone in the UK should avoid ‘non-essential’ travel and that people should work from home where possible.
As a result of this new guidance, many businesses around the UK will be introducing remote or flexible working policies in order to help prevent the spread to their staff, clients and wider society.
For many organisations, employees working from home is nothing new, but what if your business is not prepared to support remote working?
In this article, we’ll look at some basic tips for making remote working a success.
These days, remote working is simpler than ever to implement successfully. Technology allows us to stay in contact with our colleagues almost as quickly and easily as if we were face to face.
Traditional methods such as telephone calls and emails are effective in keeping up to date with colleagues. Video calls and webinars may be helpful for longer conversations, group discussions or demonstrations. Applications, such as Trello, allow colleagues to manage projects, keep track of progress and work collaboratively even when they are apart.
Organisations should consider ensuring that employees actually have access to the necessary tools and software to work from home, however. Employees should be reminded to check their usernames and passwords to confirm that they can log in to systems remotely if they need to. It is also worth checking that emergency contact numbers are up to date and that employees have access to a work laptop or phone, if required.
Remember that each employee is an individual. While some might thrive working remotely, others might find it a lonely experience. Some people feel more of a need than others to have regular, face-to-face contact with colleagues and to receive instruction and feedback in this way. Scheduling regular phone calls, emails or Skype meetings can help people feel involved.
Managers should be prepared to arrange regular ‘catch-ups’ with their staff throughout periods of remote working. Such contact should establish not only how work is progressing, but how individuals are feeling, both physically and mentally, during what is an uncertain and unprecedented situation.
Some businesses have tested their ability to continue operating on a remote basis.
Lloyd’s of London tested its coronavirus contingency plan by shutting its underwriting room for 24 hours from midnight 12 March to midnight 13 March. The aim of this was to test alternative trading protocols in the event that underwriters need to work from home.
This time also allowed for a deep clean of the underwriting room as well as public areas of the Lloyd’s building.
In statement, Lloyd’s reiterated, “The Lloyd’s market is committed to being there when our policyholders need us the most. That means paying all valid claims as quickly as possible. Lloyd’s has set up a dedicated contact point to provide our policyholders with assistance and to help them find the right person to confirm cover or process a claim.”
Remote working might be beneficial for some organisations in the longer term – not just during this crisis. Minimising travel to and from the office, as well as to external meetings, will save travel costs and also benefit the environment.
For now, as the situation develops, it’s important for organisations to have business contingency plans in place so that they can continue to operate as effectively as possible when faced with serious disruption.
Go here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public for the latest government advice on coronavirus.