The FAQs of Remote Work During COVID-19
As companies put emergency remote work policies in place and the workforce shifts toward working-from-home, there are often more questions than answers. Here are a few solutions to the most burning questions about transitioning, implementing, and sustaining a successful remote work program.
When should we go remote?
Companies should act proactively instead of reactively. Ideally, you want your organization to avoid having any sick employees throughout the pandemic, and the only way to do so is to take swift action. Consider your location, workforce, industry, and capabilities ahead of time, then make an informed decision.
Can I prepare ahead of time?
The most successful work-from-home policies start far before a crisis. If you have the time and resources, begin implementing these steps to make the transition to remote work even easier.
How do I talk to my employees about emergency policy changes?
Remain clear, concise, and calm at all times, relying on hard facts that can be supported by trusted empirical sources. Stay in constant communication as updates emerge, and be receptive to employee questions and concerns.
What if we can't go fully remote?
Take as many precautions as possible and remember that anything worthwhile is still effective, even if it's only partial. Limit air travel, conferences, outside visitors, and even in-office meetings as best as possible. Urge teams to use video and teleconferencing tools.
What about maintenance staff?
Some office staff is essential for maintaining your building. Consider the important roles that administrative staff, groundskeepers, mailroom employees, and other operations positions play; ensure their safety, especially if they need to be on-site.
What can I do to ease the work-from-home transition?
Not every employee has the at-home infrastructure for a successful remote career. Especially in a time where household finances may become tight, consider providing a reimbursement program or stipend for employees to outfit their space. Remain in constant communication to make sure employee needs are met throughout the remote period.
What if somebody has an illness unrelated to COVID-19?
While employee health should always be a primary consideration, now more than ever, all ill employees should be urged to stay home due to any illness, however unrelated to COVID-19 it may be.
What groups are considered high risk?
Age has the largest effect on both mortality and morbidity regarding COVID-19; urge staff over 60 years of age to self-quarantine as soon as possible. From there, encourage pregnant employees, those with chronic illnesses, and other immunocompromised individuals to work from home.
What information can I trust?
Stick to large-scale, largely empirical resources that don’t make assumptions or become overzealous with their data. Several trusted resources, including the CDC, WHO, and SHRM, can be found here.
Are there any legal considerations?
Certainly. Follow federal and state rules and regulations regarding private health information, mandatory sick pay, FMLA (which does not cover the common flu; however it can possibly cover a longer-term chronic respiratory illness), and all ADA guidelines. Consult your legal team or a corporate lawyer for the most accurate information.
How can I protect myself against COVID-19?
Begin with the same precautions you'd use during any other flu season. Practice excellent hand hygiene (wash with soap and water more often than usual and supplement with hand sanitizer), cough into your elbow, and thoroughly sterilize surfaces in public areas.
Should I wear a mask to work or out of the house?
CDC recommendations are constantly being updated to reflect the current situation. At this time of updating, it is recommended that a face covering be worn in areas of high community spread, such as grocery stores, public transit, or other group environments.
What do I need to bring home to work remotely?
Printed materials often become lost in the shuffle, no matter where you are. Don't forget the notepads, binders, files, and catalogs you use occasionally. Bring home your peripherals, such as a wireless mouse or keyboard, to prevent fatigue from working day in and day out on a laptop. And, of course, don't forget your charger.
Where should I set up my at-home workspace?
There are endless schools of thought throughout the interior design community, but none suit every situation. Setting up a home office will depend on the size of your space, where you have an area for a desk and storage, and what furniture you need to do your best work.