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Creating a Work from Home Policy for When Pandemics or Disasters Strike

Cotney Construction Law - Creating a Work from Home Policy for When Pandemics or Disasters Strike - Part 5
April 8, 2020 at 3:02 p.m.

By Lauren White, RCS Reporter.

Now is the time to update and establish work from home policies.

Working from home is increasingly popular in today’s work environment with the development of newer and faster technologies and the ability to collaborate remotely.  Employees have more flexibility now to work from home, a coffee shop, the library, a plane, etc. This is a convenient option for many, especially now. However, some companies don’t have work from home policies already established and many U.S. employers are creating these policies in order to stay operational, should they end up closing due to the coronavirus.

There are multiple benefits to working remotely.  According to Forbes, working from home can increase productivity, thus helping the business’s bottom line.  Employees are less distracted when at home, as opposed to the office, and are therefore more efficient.  Additionally, workers are less stressed because they don’t have to commute, and lower stress means higher morale.  According to AmTrust Financial, “With remote workers, companies can incur less overhead and operating costs to keep their business running smoothly, and they also may see a reduction in severe workers’ compensation claims.”

The CDC shared that health officials may implement “social distancing measures that increase the physical space between people.”  As of now, some restaurants and grocery stores have already made changes to encourage social distancing of at least six feet. For companies, social distancing in the workplace could mean replacing in-person meetings with video conferencing.

ABC News is calling it a “massive work-from-home experiment.”  This forces managers to think about, “...what do we really want to do this week, how are we going to see that, how are we going to check in,” shares Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, and the director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources.

In order for this “experiment” to be successful, it is important to make sure everyone has a computer, email, phone or video conferencing capabilities, and access to the internal networks of the company.  Confirm collaborative tools are in place, such as Teams, Skype, Slack, and other messaging services through phone, email, and messaging. Google and Microsoft are providing their clients free enhanced teleconferencing tools to make it easier for people to work from home.  RoofersCoffeeShop® has several digital alternatives to utilize and stay connected during this pandemic.

Workers should use a secure internet connection and work with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which helps establish a protected and encrypted connection ensuring data is transmitted safely.  Tablets and smartphones can also connect through a VPN. During this time, using apps and phone calls are a great way to stay connected to clients and reduce the amount of contact with others.  

In a work from home policy, it is recommended to have specific guidelines outlining exactly what is required of employees when working remotely.  “Set clear expectations such as an employee’s daily work schedule, company overtime policy, description of dedicated workspace, instructions for reporting personal injury and damage to company equipment, and protection of proprietary company information,” AmTrust Financial recommends.  

For many jobs such as in factories, retail, construction, restaurants, and more, it’s not feasible for people to work remotely.  Health authorities are urging companies to establish sanitary conditions by cleaning frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, keyboards, lightswitches, etc.  Many others are staggering work shifts to limit the number of employees in the building at one time.

Whether or not a work from home policy is in place yet, many companies have already asked their employees to work remotely to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.  During this time, one of the most important things to do is trust your employees will get their job done even when they are not onsite.

For more information about the coronavirus, visit our RCS Coronavirus Update page. 



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