With COVID-19 officially declared a pandemic, chances are your employees are working from home. And if they’re not already, well, it may only be a matter of time before your office makes the call, or the government makes it a requirement.
However, just because a worker goes remote, you don’t get a pass on their health and safety. Australia’s WHS laws have always required the same standard of care for lone workers as on-site workers. And now that most people are remote and away from co-workers, those lone worker guidelines apply to them.
These five tips will help you keep employees safe, mitigate against risk, and help you avoid claims and liability.
1. Develop a Self Check Policy
The best way you can keep workers safe at home is to help identify risks around the house. Some obvious things employees should make sure they have in their house are smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a first-aid kit, and an evacuation plan. Of course, other necessities include food and water.
You can suggest that employees conduct a self-check of their home. Here’s a good checklist they can run through that covers the basics of home safety. Don’t assume all your employees already know these things. In any case, it’s a helpful reminder. It also demonstrates that you helped your employees practice good home safety and gave them recommendations.
2. Help them find accurate news
This tip isn’t as hands-on as the last, but you can be a force for good by directing your employees to reliable, official information about the coronavirus. While this virus affects physical health, it’s clear that it also affects mental wellbeing. Having quality and accurate information is important to keep a level head.
A good place to start is the World Health Organization. They have some of the most up to date information at the global level. For Australia specifically, the Ministry of Health website is up to date with coronavirus information and policy updates from our government.
3. Promote Healthy Habits at Home
As your team goes remote, they face new challenges like being stuck inside. Not everyone is set up with a great workspace in a home office. If feasible, reimburse them for home office supplies. Encourage them to work their regular hours and take regular breaks.
You may find it beneficial to start a workout or walking competition. A small challenge can motivate your workers to get outside or use the space in their home to stretch their legs and keep their minds fresh. You could start a workout Slack channel or keep track of people’s walking time during this period of remote work for the chance at a prize.
4. Make Clear Decisions and Communicate Them Well
Many of your employees will look to you for regular updates on company policy, revenue, and news. Regardless of how you choose to react to the virus and what information you choose to share with your team, decide early and always make it clear. A clear line of communication will help with mental health and wellbeing. It will also increase the trust your team has in the company.
Another key point to communicating well to your lone and remote workers is having multiple channels of communication. First, decide which channel is the primary channel for news and updates. Is it email? Slack? Is information distributed to everyone at the same time or passed down through chain of command? Next, provide additional means for your workers to communicate. Consider creating a directory of numbers or providing video conferencing tools.
5. Keep Tabs on Your Employees
Since you won’t see them face-to-face, create a system for checking in on each employee. You can do this simply by reaching out each day or every couple of days with an email, Slack message, or phone call. You can also create a buddy system where each employee is assigned a team member to check in with on a more regular basis.
You also want to create options for your team to flag emergencies quickly, and get those notifications all the way to the top of the company. Many companies equip their employees with apps and wearable technology like Duress that they can use in case of emergency. These give employers quick visual and audio access to the live situation and kick off emergency procedures pre-determined by the company.
See how Duress can ensure all your employee’s safety while they work from home during the coronavirus. Request a demo.