The information contained in this bulletin is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general risk management and insurance information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such. If you wish to discuss your specific requirements, please do not hesitate to contact your usual Towergate Insurance Brokers advisor.
Following the measures brought in by the UK Government to combat the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, the guidance is that those who can work from home, should do so. This means many businesses have seen their own and their employees’ working environment change to be working remotely.
For business leaders and line managers, it’s important to look at the ways you can ensure teams remain joined up, working together and continuing to deliver the best possible service.
We’ve compiled some helpful tips for those who have found themselves with a remote workforce.
1. Communication is key
Where employees are working from various working locations and environments, it’s important to continue to engage with your colleagues and teams every day, just like you would when you’re in the office or usual place of work. Your team are understandably worried about coronavirus, from a work and personal perspective, so listen to their concerns and point them in the direction of relevant support.
Some useful tools and tips on how you can best do this are:
- Introduce daily buzz calls at the start and end of the day to check in with colleagues – this will help prioritise work and set expectations to ensure everyone is aligned and also keeping everyone engaged
- Set up team or business WhatsApp groups to keep people talking and working together when you’re not in your usual environment. Just make sure that colleagues have given permission for personal numbers to be used. Please also be mindful that while WhatsApp is a conversational and relaxed communication channel, you’re still talking to colleagues, so try to keep professional and under no circumstances share client or sensitive information via this channel
- Utilise all communications channels available to you
- Encourage teams to learn from one another on how to work from home – working from home requires skills and boundaries that don’t necessarily come naturally to some people – invite members of your team to share practices that have worked well for them
2. Managing workloads
While your people are working across various working environments and aren’t necessarily all in one place as they’d usually be, it may be sensible to put in place some additional measures to prioritise workload and to understand what work is being carried out during the day.
Some suggestions to do this are:
- Track workload productivity by asking employees to log their work on a daily basis.
- Ensure your team know what is expected of them and set expectations early and clearly – these might have to be adapted from usual objectives
- Ensure your team know when and who to escalate to if they need support
- Adapt the working day to include tasks that are not usual for an individual
- Be flexible with how and when work is done – for example, if employees have children at home with them, it may be more productive for them to work in the morning and evening (if this is possible)
3. Developing in downtime
It is likely that as the whole world is affected by this virus, your usual business operations have been disrupted. You may find that at times, your workload is lighter than you’ve previously been used to.
During this time, it’s important that employees have some tasks that can be completed, including any that could be done without access to core systems if this is necessary.
You could encourage our employees to:
- Review their Continuous Professional Development (CPD)
- Find and complete webinars that are available to learn new skills
- Spend time getting on top of admin and those tasks that usually bottom of priority lists
4. Health and wellbeing
During this period of uncertainty, it’s understandable that people may be very worried about what the future holds – they’re likely to be concerned for their own wellbeing, welfare and livelihood and that of their loved ones, in addition to worrying about catching the virus.
At this time, it’s important to listen to people’s concerns and reassure them that any measures taken are to protect people and there’s no need to panic.
It may also be useful to signpost employees to resources where they can get further advice, guidance and support such as the Mind website and other mental health helplines.
Keep checking in on your team and their workloads to help manage stress levels and offer pragmatic support where possible.
5. Working from home risk assessments
For employees who are transitioning to remote working, it’s important that risk assessments are completed to ensure your workforce remains safe while working from home. Our Health and Safety and Employment Law partner Ellis Whittam has provided free access to their Coronavirus Advice Hub that can be accessed at https://elliswhittam.com/covid-19/partnerships. Here you will find lots of useful information about safe homeworking including:
- A homeworking risk assessment template
- Health and safety guidance for homeworking
- An employee guide to health and wellbeing
You will need to register to access this free service. Please choose Towergate Risk Management as the Ellis Whittam partner.