With millions of Australians currently working from home during lockdown, many employers have again had to pivot their business online to keep the wheels turning.
Switching to remote working can often lead to a disconnect between boss and worker, where the lines of productivity might be blurred.
However, for employers who effectively and correctly manage their employees who work from home during lockdown, it can generally lead to a more positive outcome for the business.
Employsure’s advice on managing remote workers
There are steps employers can partake to ensure their business can run smoothly during lockdown and Employsure, workplace relations advisor to more than 30,000 SMEs across Australia is calling on employers to actively and openly communicate with their employees.
“Communication is one of the challenges for employers who have staff working remotely.”
“Workers may feel disconnected when working from home due to lack of physical interaction with managers and co-workers,” said Employsure’s specialist Nicholas Hackenberg.
“Since the start of the year we have experienced a 29% increase in calls to our employer advice line from business owners who need help managing their employees working remotely.”
“In July we saw many calls from employers in New South Wales and Victoria, stuck in lockdowns. Employers constantly need guidance to manage their business during lockdown.”
“For employers who have shifted to remote working, managing employees effectively will be key to success. Keeping communication channels open with employees will help highlight what the goal of the business is, and show the employee what is required to achieve that goal.”
Employsure advocates for digital software adoption
Digital management software is an effective way for employers to connect with employees so they can regularly check-in with them and monitor their progress on outstanding tasks.
BrightHR helps employers track employee activity, see projects being worked on, monitor who is off sick, and keep tabs on employees who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Employers have a legal obligation and responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their employees, even when they are working remotely at home.
To guarantee fulfilment of their obligations, employers should send a checklist to employees to fill out while working from home, to ensure the environment they are working in is safe.
This includes not only checking for hazards in the home, but also ensuring the desk and chair the employee is using is ergonomically adequate, and that the room is correctly lit.
While some employers affected by the lockdown will continue as normal through remote working, for others, it may mean they have to stand down their employees until further notice.
The Fair Work Act means that unpaid stand downs apply when an employee cannot usefully be employed due to something outside the employer’s control such as a public health order.
Employers must show that all steps were taken to find employment for affected employees.
“All alternatives should be considered prior to standing down an employee, including whether the employee could work from home or in another location,” continued Mr Hackenberg.
“Employees and employers should discuss how the arrangement could work for them. If it is not possible, the employer must confirm it in writing before effecting the stand down.”