What Having Remote Employees Means for Business Owners

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt everyday life, and that includes the workplace. To follow the Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines, many businesses deemed non-essential made the switch to remote-only work and have remained that way. Whether your workplace has transitioned to online-only operations or just has a few employees working remotely, you’ll need to modify your workflow and security measures to meet new demands.

Remote workers will likely need flexibility in their schedules, access to equipment, and enhanced cybersecurity. While your workplace may have policies already in place regarding these issues, you still may need to modify these policies to accommodate the increase of remote workers.

Flexibility

With the switch to remote work and the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees have faced new challenges over the past few months. One concern for many workers has been a lack of flexibility.

The regular nine-to-five schedule may no longer work for all your employees. That’s especially true for people who have become caregivers or oversee children as they attend virtual school from home.

To accommodate your team members, ask if the regularly scheduled meeting times still work for them. These meetings may now coincide with a child’s lunch break or a plethora of other new disruptions. If an employee expresses concerns about working during regular hours, work with that individual one-on-one to set guidelines for a flexible but productive work schedule.

Revising Your Employee Handbook

Just as regular work hours change in a remote learning environment, so should your handbook. You may have policies that make sense in normal conditions, such as policies about equipment usage. However, the change from a physical environment to a digital one will require new parameters.

If you don’t have policies regarding network security, password strength, and other cybersecurity issues, be sure to work with your team to establish and enforce them. Even if you have existing policies, you may want to add additional security protocols due to the recent uptick in cyberattacks on businesses.

Distributing Equipment

Your company will most likely issue record-high numbers of laptops, monitors, and other equipment to your staff. Before distributing equipment, make sure you have a system for tracking each component or device.

You’ll also need a way to secure equipment both before they’re checked out and after it’s in your employees’ possession. Consider purchasing protective cases for laptops or locks for laptop cases. Ensure your employees know how to secure their devices and safely transfer them to and from their new work stations.

Insurance Coverage 

The pandemic has already lasted longer than many business owners thought it would, and there’s no clear end in sight. In turn, many companies are reconsidering their insurance coverage policies. As an employer, take this time to reassess your insurance needs and your employees’ needs now that you have a growing number of remote workers.

To help with the process, ask your employees to make sure their homeowner’s policy is up-to-date. Doing so makes sure their homes and property are covered should damage occur during working hours. Ask for documentation regarding employees’ homeowner’s policies and keep them on file.

Having a clear telecommuting policy will help you avoid misunderstandings. It can also help ensure that your employees’ work-from-home setup is safe for their health and wellbeing. Set work hours, encourage regular breaks, and make sure your employees follow safety procedures. Create written work-from-home agreements for your employees and keep them on file as well.

If you need help with your business’s work-from-home safety and insurance policies, consider consulting an agency that specializes in remote working policies. An expert’s opinion can help you ensure you have all your liabilities covered.

Cybersecurity 

Working from home can increase your company’s cybersecurity risks. Your company’s data will be less secure if your employees are using their Wi-fi and devices. You may want to go over online safety with all of your employees, even if they’ve already completed training for in-office protocols. Ensure their Wi-fi is password-protected, instruct employees not to share their login with anyone, and ask employees not to let others use their device if possible.

Also Read- 06 Simple Ways Technology Improves Productivity During COVID-19

If employees are using company equipment, consider adding a virtual private network, or VPN, to your company devices. A VPN will create a remote system for your staff, even when using personal or public Wi-fi.

Keeping Your Employees Safe in Remote Environments 

While your staff settles into their work-from-home routines, be sure you’re changing or implementing new policies that will help their wellbeing and health. That includes both their mental and physical health, as well as the health of their virtual environments and devices. Your employees will not be able to successfully do their jobs if they do not have the correct equipment or guidance. Even after your remote policies are settled, check in with your employees and make changes to your policies as needed.

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