Regular communication with employees working from home key to success

Published August 24, 2021 -
WFH Management

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.

There are a number of steps employers should take to ensure their business can run smoothly during lockdown, and Employsure, workplace relations advisor to more than 30,000 SMEs across Australia and New Zealand, is calling on employers to actively and openly communicate with their employees.

“Maintaining that communication is one of the biggest challenges for employers who have staff working remotely. Some workers may feel disconnected when working from home since they don’t have any face-to-face interaction with management and co-workers,” said Employsure employment relations specialist Nicholas Hackenberg.

“Since the start of the year we’ve seen a 29% increase in calls to our employer advice line from business owners who need help managing their employees. In July we saw 6,500 calls alone, mostly from employers who are in New South Wales or Victoria and stuck in lockdown. What this tells us is employers are constantly needing guidance on how to manage their business during lockdown.

“For employers who have shifted to remote working, managing employees effectively will be key to success. Keeping those 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.”

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. Platforms like BrightHR can help employers track when their employees are active, see what projects they are working on, monitor who is off sick, and keep tabs on which employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Employers have a legal responsibility to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their employees, even when they work remotely. To guarantee they are fulfilling their workplace health and safety 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 be able to continue as normal through remote working, for others, it may mean they have to stand down their employees until further notice.

The requirements under the Fair Work Act mean 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. However, an employer must show all steps have been taken to find useful 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, and if working is not possible, the employer must confirm it in writing before the stand down can take place.”


Media Enquires:

Matthew Bridges
[email protected]

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