Covid-19 has shoved most of the globe, and most of Australia into the biggest working from home experiment – but what happens when restrictions are lifted? Will we all go back to working from the office, every single day.
What are the stats telling us?
Remote working has steadily been on the rise, especially here is Australia. Job board Indeed did a study prior to Covid-19 and it showed that 68% of Australian employers allow employees to work from home and 92% has invested in technology to facilitate remote working. It is clear that remote working is on the agenda of Australian employers and employees.
There has been a natural move towards remote working with a variety of benefits, with employees saying a better work-life balance (80%) to be the top and reduced stress (58%) coming in second place.
For those employers who are covered by the FairWork Act, employees may have the right to request flexible working arrangements (which can include remote working options). If an employee has worked for an employer for 12 months or more and;
– Are the parent, or have the responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger;
– Are a carer
– Have a disability
– Are 55 or older
– Are experiencing family or domestic violence or providing care or support to a member of their household or immediate family because of family or domestic violence
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Key considerations for employers
Under the current circumstances the focus for employers has been on just keeping the wheels turning as best you could, there does need to be some forethought if you workers are going to continue (or remain) working remotely for an extended period of time.
1. Health and Safety Factors
All of our state Work Health and Safety (WHS) or Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation differ slightly, however all legislation requires employers so far as practically possible has a duty of care to safeguard their workplace from risks to health and safety; and this includes when remote working. Some of the things you as an employer needs to consider:
– What is their work space setup like? Do they have a proper desk and chair? Is there adequate lighting?
– Is the home safe or is there construction work going on or other maintenance that poses a risk to health and safety?
– Are they taking adequate breaks and managing their own wellbeing
Ensuring an employee has the right equipment to do their job and safely is an important discussion to have prior to commencing a remote working, key questions and considerations to ask:
– What physical equipment is needed (laptop etc.), who owns it or is responsible for supplying and the upkeep and what can someone use it for?
– Software access and programs, this might include software for anti-virus or to aid communication or productivity
– Any safety equipment
3. Work Plans and Expectations
Making sure everyone is on the same page from the onset will be imperative to mitigating any future issues. It is not just about having this conversation but also documenting it and reviewing it regularly. Everyone should be aware of:
– If there are requirements to work standard working hours, as in 9am -5pm or are employees required to work there 7.6 hours across the span of the day
– How long is this for, is it a trial period, or short term as a result of a short term requirement
– Are there any parts of an employees role that cannot be completed remotely
4. Changes to Internal Procedures (eg Privacy)
From an employer perspective you may need to consider if there are any internal procedures that need to be tweaked or reinforced to ensure you are meeting any legal requirements. By far the biggest would be privacy requirements, some key things to consider:
– Does your employee have access to any confidential business or client information (bank accounts, credit card numbers, payroll information etc.)
– What are the potential risks to this information (eg are credit card numbers printed?)
– What safeguards need to be put in place (ensuring documents are shredded and not put in the public recycle, or a locked cabinet)
There are a number of clear benefits to enabling remote working, both to the employers and employees and if some pre-planning, and discussions happen before you embark on this hugely beneficial set up it will ensure the common pitfalls are avoided.
Need help in considering or implementing long term remote working practices, please reach out today.