To slow the spread of COVID-19, restaurants, bars, and public spaces have closed throughout Canada. Following suit, offices have also shut their doors and implemented mandatory work-from-home policies to support self-isolation and social distancing mandates. For many employers and employees, this is a novel concept that requires significant adjustment. Although the transition for some industries may be seamless, other organizations will face significant challenges along the way. As Canada’s workforce shifts from office to working from home, all companies are faced with a new challenge –how to protect their staff who may now be working remotely or alone.
Who is Considered a Lone Worker?
Employees are considered to be working alone if they are by themselves at a worksite and without readily available assistance. A lone worker is an employee who performs their job tasks in isolation and without direct supervision. Although the work itself may not be dangerous, the hazards associated with lone work often arise from a worker’s inability to seek help if there is an emergency.
Are Work From Home Jobs Considered Lone Work?
Many employees who are newly working from home may be in the company of their spouse, partner, or even family. Thus, although remote, the nature of their work is not exactly isolated or lone. However, employees who live alone are considered lone workers. However, all employees who are working from home are likely to spend at least some portion of their day performing their job alone and without the availability of immediate assistance. The phenomenon of safety at home may not be high on a company’s priority list, especially given the stress and uncertainty of this time. Yet, with much of Canada’s workforce working from home over the next few weeks or months, companies must pay mind to the safety and well-being of their lone work-from-home employees.
Here’s What Your Company Can Do
We recognize that this office-to-home transition may be exceedingly difficult for your organization. With countless moving parts and administrative tasks to be considered, the well-being of your workers at home could get over-looked. However, now is the time to look out for your staff more than ever as they are also dealing with a radical shift in their work, in addition to the stresses associated with COVID-19. Here’s some more information on what your company can do to effectively manage its remote workforce.
Companies must stay in constant contact with their staff throughout the day – not only for job-related communications but also to ensure their safety at home. It is worthwhile to conduct a home hazard assessment to identify any potential safety risks in the home office environment. Once hazards have been noted, steps can be taken to mitigate or eliminate them. This will enhance the safety and security of your employees’ home office spaces. Learn more about how to protect your employees working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
Establish a Check-In Procedure for Your Work From Home Employees
An effective way of maintaining contact is implementing a check-in procedure. The practice itself is simple: establish predetermined check-in times throughout the day for employees to touch base. Contact can be a text, email, call, or voice recording that gives monitors information on the worker’s activity and location. Check-in procedures can be either manual or automatic. Manual check-in procedures are free to develop but are prone to human error because they rely on human monitors keeping track of who is supposed to be checking in and when.
Automated check-in procedures are a fail-proof way to ensure the safety of your staff throughout their shift. Instead of constant involvement, monitors are only notified if a worker misses a check-in. Missed check-ins signal that something is wrong and allow your organization to act right away. Automated lone worker monitoring systems are extremely valuable for companies who employ lone workers at home. Companies should not make the error of assuming that workers are safe, just because they are inside and at home. Danger can come to any workplace. Do not assume that your people are safe just because they are working from home.
It’s no secret that Canadian companies will be navigating new challenges and obstacles as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s important to make sure that your employee’s safety and well-being are not sacrificed.