With most employees back to work in some capacity (whether that be remotely, on less hours or alternate days etc.), the way we work has changed substantially and more and more people are working from home via online platforms like Zoom and Teams.
Yet this new normal of how we interact with employees may be threatened by complacency. Team members who continue to work from home (WFH) must remember they are working and act accordingly.
A few recent stories are a reminder that, when your team WFH, it is important they remain professional and accountable.
One example of what not to do is reflected by the actions of a Canadian MP (William Amos) who made an embarrassing apology after being caught naked during a parliamentary video call for the Canadian House of Commons question time. Luckily, he was hidden from the public stream while other members spoke. His reason… he was changing into work clothes after going for a run and did not realise the camera was on.
This is not the first time we have seen something in the news like this – e.g.
- a surgeon was chastised by a United States Judge when he appeared at a virtual court hearing while working in the operating theatre;
- a lawyer participating in an online hearing could not turn off a cat filter while in court; and
- in preliminary hearings for a Twitter hacker, internet trolls repeatedly disrupted the court, ending in one of the trolls sharing a screen playing graphic pornography.
Your employee’s responsibilities
As employees continue to work from home by agreement, choice or necessity, it is essential you employers remind your staff that, during work time and work activities, they must adhere to reasonable standards of conduct. This means being clear about what is an appropriate standard of dress when they are visible and the appropriate communication in what is otherwise a relaxed environment.
Employees must also understand any requirements for computer virus protection on their computers used for work purposes; especially where they access work platforms and the risk of exposure to viruses and hacking.
Safeguarding your business
Many of you in business now have employees who WFH. You should have clear procedures that are formally documented and implemented to protect both of you from breaching company policies and/or workplace health and safety guidelines… or you may be held liable if something untoward happens.
As the employer, you have the responsibility under law for ensuring your employees home workplaces and systems of work are safe and consistent with all legislation. The WFH arrangement should be formally agreed in writing prior to the employee WFH.
By doing this, you ensure that, should anything go wrong or should a Workcover claim be lodged, you can confirm you have taken documented steps to assess, implement and monitor the WFH arrangements.
You also have a responsibility to ensure workplace health and safety standards are maintained for employees working at home.
If you are going to permit WFH, you have a right to (and really should) conduct an audit of their homework environment to ensure it is safe and that confidential material belonging to your organisation is secure from visitors to the home.
Ideally, you should have a “Working from Home” policy and agreement. Your policy should set out the requirements for employees working from home, such as:
- communication with the workplace, other employees and management;
- level of supervision required.
- accessibility for clients
- recording time and workflow
- privacy considerations
- compliance with workplace health and safety requirements
- resources and equipment required.
- responsibility for costs incurred.
If you direct employees to WFH, you are responsible for covering the associated costs – e.g.
- telephone line rental/ mobile plan and
Before you proceed with a “Working from Home” Agreement, we recommend you direct the employee to conduct an audit of the home and workspace to ensure:
- they have an ergonomically sound workstation that meets work requirements and minimise risk of injury.
- there is sufficient light for work to be performed safely.
- there is sufficient ventilation.
- noise levels are at acceptable levels so as not to distract the employee during work.
- they have access to any further equipment required to complete work tasks in an efficient manner.
- they have safety equipment like fire extinguishers and first aid kits, and they know how to use them.
- they have the appropriate telephone and data lines to access and complete work.
- they have a secure environment if they are working with information subject to privacy requirements and
- they are appropriately insured to work from home.
Where possible, it is recommended a trial period is implemented for each WFH arrangement to ensure it is both successful and complaint for employers and employees; with any necessary changes implemented and documented accordingly.
Akyra’s key takeaways
As WFH is becoming more accepted, managing the associated risks is best achieved with good planning and preparation. Workplace policies and procedures, coupled with regular communication of the acceptable conduct standards in your workplace will help you to avoid some of the risks or even unnecessary embarrassment that has been identified.
If you do not have WFH documents or need assistance to prepare the documents or a review to ensure your business complies with relevant legislation, Akyra can assist you. Contact us on 07 3204 8830, for an obligation-free conversation or to discuss any queries you may have.
NEED MORE INFORMATION?
Akyra can help your business to assist and support all your questions and concerns related to remote working arrangements. Please contact Akyra on 07 3204 8830 or book a free 30-minute consultation for an obligation-free conversation.
Disclaimer – Reliance on Content
The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not intended to be legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.