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March 19, 2020

Managing the Remote Work Transition: Tips for Employers

As more cases of COVID-19 are detected in the United States, people are being asked to do what they can to stop the spread. Schools have been closed, events have been cancelled and many people are working from home.

In this situation, work-from-home policies are being implemented as an emergency measure, but the arrangement had already been gaining popularity for a while now. With modern technology, it’s easier than ever to telecommute, and it can give workers the flexibility they need to achieve better work-life balance. No one misses rush hour commutes, either.

Nevertheless, the transition can be tricky, especially when it comes unexpectedly. Here are some tips for employers managing the remote work transition.

1. Stay in Touch.

Some people may be reluctant to mention “small matters” when it requires a phone call or email, but ongoing communication is essential. Create routines for daily and weekly check-ins in addition to essential calls and teleconferences.

2. Select Your Communication Methods.

Thanks to modern technology, employers have a wide range of options when it comes to keeping in touch with remote workers.

  • Text Messages
  • Instant Messaging
  • Emails
  • Phone Calls
  • Video Conferencing
  • Remote Work Platforms

These can all be great methods in the right situation – but that doesn’t mean you should use all of them. Workers might get confused if the information they need is coming from too many sources, and key messages might get missed.

The same goes for video conferencing and remote work platforms. You have multiple options, but each one will require workers to download a program and learn how to use it.

Figure out which communication methods and platforms work for your team and stick to those.

3. Be Vigilant about Cybersecurity  

Data breaches and malware are still a threat. In fact, the threat may be even greater when employees are working from home, especially if they don’t adhere to cybersecurity best practices.

Make sure your workers are taking steps to prevent cyberattacks.

  • Wi-Fi should be secured with encryption and password protection. Workers should avoid using public Wi-Fi.
  • Devices should be protected with anti-virus software, and security patches and system updates should be installed as they become available.
  • Accounts should be protected with strong passwords.
  • Employees should be trained on how to spot and avoid malicious links and sites.
  • Spear phishing attacks and business email compromise schemes may increase as scammers take advantage of the disruptions. Have procedures in place to verify that requests are legitimate.

4. Focus on Physical Safety, Too

Remote work blurs the line between work and home, and it doesn’t eliminate the possibility of workers’ compensation claims.

In fact, some claims might even increase. After all, in this case, workers are scrambling to set up home offices, potentially with little planning or space. According to Business Insurance, workers who strain their backs, trip over a cord or suffer other injuries could file a claim. Employers should provide a safety checklist for workers to follow.

5. Create a Schedule – But Be Flexible and Understanding

Maintaining regular hours can help workers be productive. It can also help them know when to stop working for the day, so they don’t burn out. This may be especially important for workers who aren’t used to managing their time while working from home.

At the same time, a little flexibility may be required.

Many parents are adjusting to working from home while also adjusting to homeschooling their children. Other workers may need to take care of parents or other relatives. Your workers are also likely to be stressed about the current state of events. They may have friends and family who are sick, and they may be worried about what’s happening in their communities.

Consider flexible working hours when possible and check in with workers to make sure they’re doing okay. Provide additional assistance and resources when possible.

If you have questions or need assistance with helping your employees transition to a remote working environment, contact Heffernan Insurance Brokers’ Benefit Advisory Services.

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