I appreciate that for many of you there are still more questions than answers but for those who had to make some tough decisions pretty quickly I think the initial furloughing is sorted, and working from home is in place. Many small businesses seem to be receiving the letters from their local councils if they are eligible for one of the grants.
I thought it might be useful to share a few useful sources for working from home as I’ve seen several questions about it.
Data Security / Data Protection
It would be wise to review any data protection measures and procedures to ensure they are as effective as they can be whilst people are home working.
The ICO have published some guidance here https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-and-coronavirus/
You may want to talk to your IT provider about data security – if you don’t have one give us a shout as we can recommend a great company to help.
Are your staff using new virtual services securely – many of us have had a steep learning curve about zoom & similar products – are staff mindful of any data protection implications? Do staff have company documents or printed materials at home – are these being kept securely as far as possible?
Now is a good time to ensure you have up to date contact details for all staff. It may be tempting to share that company wide to facilitate people keeping in touch – just remember to get everyone’s permission to share personal contact details before you do it!
In the ICO FAQs this is highlighted:
Data protection is not a barrier to increased and different types of homeworking. During the pandemic, staff may work from home more frequently than usual and they can use their own device or communications equipment. Data protection law doesn’t prevent that, but you’ll need to consider the same kinds of security measures for homeworking that you’d use in normal circumstances.
Health & Safety
Are your staff working safely at home? They may not have the perfect desk set up but as far as possible have they got a safe space to work in that is set up to comply with DSE requirements as far as you can possibly manage?
The HSE have some useful guidance here : https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm – they state:
For those people who are working at home on a long-term basis, the risks associated with using display screen equipment (DSE) must be controlled. This includes doing home workstation assessments.
However, there is no increased risk from DSE work for those working at home temporarily. So in that situation employers do not need to do home workstation assessments. You could provide workers with advice on completing their own basic assessment at home (there is one on the site for you to use).
There have been stories of people being stopped by the police to enquire about the nature of their travel. If you require staff to travel for work that cannot be done from home it would be advisable to provide them with a letter on company headed paper to confirm why their travel is necessary. A pdf they could show on their phone should suffice we imagine.
Some people are going to find it tough being at home either working from home or furloughed and may be juggling childcare responsibilities too.
What measures can you put in place to support their wellbeing? What flexibility is there in how and when people carry out their work? How will you stay in touch and check that everyone is doing ok?
If you have company healthcare or employee benefits package these may include an Employee Assistance Programme – worth checking and circulating the details. If people are struggling with their emotional wellbeing then these two links may be helpful: