We’ve had a lot of questions recently about working from home given the current alert level with COVID-19. So we thought we would share our five point plan.
1. Enable Remote Access
The very first item on our list is technology. For staff to work from home you’ll need to ensure you have the right tech solutions in place. The good news is that this is relatively easy with modern internet offerings.
- Internet Connectivity – ensure the person working from home has adequate internet connectivity and data plans. The two most common internet connections will be either NBN or 4G Mobile. Both of these offerings are suitable for work from home connectivity for most use cases. Be sure to check data usage limits to prevent issues and be prepared to cover employee costs for work related use.
- Virtual Private Network (VPN) – for most larger companies you will have a virtual private network in place that allows staff to connect via the internet and access internal files, emails and departmental systems. Ensure you have enough VPN connection licenses so you can accommodate a larger than usual amount of remote connections. This may require some investment or careful negotiation with your software provider.
2. Enable Communications
Next on our list is employee communications. You will need good communications tools to ensure people continue to collaborate, make decisions and remain productive.
- Email – if you’re like most of us you probably use Microsoft Outlook or Google Mail for your business. Both solutions offer connectivity over the internet as a default so this should be a non-issue.
- Video Conferencing – meetings will now need to be held over the phone or via video conference. You will need to provide a multi-party video conferencing solution that’s easy to use and affordable. Right now, ZOOM is extremely popular and allows for around 40 minutes of free video conferencing. Alternatively, Skype from Microsoft is still a very popular option that people are familiar with. Other options include WebEx and GoToMeeting.
- Mobile – most, if not all people now have a mobile phone with a plan that allows for unlimited calls. You may want to check data plans if staff need to use their mobiles for internet connectivity. Companies like Telstra offer temporary data packs on their website.
- Voice over IP (VOIP) – a common solution these days for company phone systems is voice over IP which allows for company phone systems to run over the internet. Often with these systems you can install a mobile app on employee mobile phones to access the company phone system, receive inbound calls, dial extensions and transfer to colleagues just as if you were in the office.
- Chat and Collaboration – tools such as Microsoft Teams and Slack are extremely popular for enabling company wide chat, real-time collaboration and ad-hoc file sharing. If you have one of these already you are in luck as they remove a lot of the barriers involved with remote work. For example, with Teams you can even share your screen with colleagues in real-time whilst discussing documents or data. If you don’t have these tools, something like Slack is very simple and easy to setup quickly for teams.
2. Other Tools
If you don’t have all the latest tools, don’t worry – you can achieve a lot with very little. Below is a list of other useful tools for working over the internet
- Dropbox or Google Drive – allows you to share files. It has a free offering and trial period and is super easy to setup and use.
- Office 365 – allows you to collaborate for with online versions of Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote for a monthly fee.
- Time Doctor – allows you to track employees time on the computer doing certain tasks.
3. Employee Communications
When people are working from home it’s easy to become isolated from what’s happening within the team or company. Unlike being in the office, employees may miss out on adhoc meetings and conversations.
- Communications Plan – You will need to increase the level of communications with staff over email and or phone. It’s worth putting together a communications plan for remote workers.
- Communications Procedures – This can include items such as a daily check-in, regularly team updates, company wide announcements and sign-off procedures.
5. Safety at Home
Significant effort goes into making our offices a safe workplace and reducing risks to our employees. Now you need to ensure that by working at home, employees don’t face any new or unknown risks. All employers have an obligation under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011 to ensure employees have safe working conditions even when they are working remotely.
- WHS Assessment – As part of good work health and safety you should check that employees have appropriate facilities to work remotely with an audit. All employers should conduct a risk assessment of the employees working location to ensure it is safe and meets the required WHS standards. You can download our example here.
- WHS Policies – Ensure that your WHS Policies include procedures for employees to work remotely. If you need inspiration do some googling or check out Safework Australia.
- Download our WHS Checklist to check that your working environment is safe.