Working from home – a dream come true or your worst nightmare?
With everything that’s happening in the world right now, we’ve all had to make some adjustments – particularly when it comes to our working environment. And, with social distancing in place and restricted group numbers, for many, working from home is the only viable option. Spare bedrooms have become makeshift offices and meeting on Zoom has become the new normal for that Monday morning check-in.
There are certain advantages (no more time wasted on the commute, squeezed on a packed train) and disadvantages (trying to find the right spot for a video call without revealing the messy background). As we all get used to this new way of working, there are a few issues that business owners and managers need to be aware of when their teams are working from home.
Workplace, I mean, Homeplace Health & Safety
Just because an employee is working at home does not mean the employer has no obligations for workplace safety. As a business owner, there are still legal requirements to follow and employers should draw up a formal working from home policy. While it may not be possible to carry out WHS assessments of each worker’s home set-up, employers should at least provide information and checklists to staff to help them set up their new workstation. Consider also allowing staff the opportunity to borrow equipment such as monitors, stand up desks and ergonomic office chairs.
As part of the government’s fiscal response, there are some tax breaks for businesses to purchase equipment, so it might even be possible to invest in new office kit to help employees get set up properly. In addition, encourage employees to instil healthy habits, take regular breaks, participate in physical activity and look after their mental health.
How are you ensuring client confidentiality?
You might have recently heard about comedian and radio presenter Hamish Blake hacking into Zoom video conferences, even successfully joining an Australian Defence Force flight-log meeting. Whilst there’s a funny side to this story, it’s also a timely reminder to think about client confidentiality. Zoom has also been accused of misleading marketing, falsely claiming it offers users end-to-end encryption, and its handling of data and security has been questioned. As a result, the company has stepped up its security measures.
So what are you doing to ensure your client’s information is safe when you’re jumping on a video chat, working on your home wifi network or family laptop or printing sensitive files at home? Be mindful of what you’re discussing on chat programs like Google Hangouts or Slack. And remind your team that they still need to be vigilant when handling confidential information. If what you’re discussing is sensitive, consider a phone call instead.
Is your data secure?
When you’re working from home, almost everything is electronic. There are less face-to-face meetings and paper files, and more reliance on electronic files, emails and working with cloud-based software. And, when you have a team of six employees on different computers at home, it means working on six different IP addresses. From a legal standpoint, ask yourself: how safe is my data and my network?
Make sure you step up your virtual security, particularly if your workplace handles sensitive information. This may mean password-protecting files, or creating multiple access levels. I’d also encourage updating all passwords on a regular basis (remembering to avoid obvious passwords such as ‘admin’ or your company name) and looking at introducing two-factor authentication where possible if you haven’t already. And take a look at Scope’s client, Daltrey.com.
Remember, these are temporary changes (I hope!)
This working from home situation (hopefully) won’t last forever. Adjusting to working from home can be difficult – we all need to make adjustments and approach our work differently. As someone who has been able to work from home frequently over the last few years, I would say it is vital to keep some separation between home life and work life, to take some time each day to get outside (even when socially distanced), to try and stay connected with friends, family and co-workers and to take care of our mental and physical wellbeing. We will get through this.
If you have any questions or concerns about your workplace situation then feel free to reach out, I’d love to help.