Businesses all around the UK should be checking their networking monitoring management is sufficient and in working order, as it is likely they will have to enable more members of staff to work from home during the coronavirus crisis.
There has been a rapid increase in the number of people in the UK who have contracted the respiratory illness, with nearly 2,000 Brits having tested positive for COVID-19 and 71 having died from it.
As a result, the government has issued new guidelines this week, restricting social contact for whole households where one person has symptoms of coronavirus for two weeks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also told the public to avoid offices, crowded places and public transport, saying everyone should work from home if they can.
He also included more people in the high-risk category, such as those who are pregnant, having underlying illnesses, or Brits over 70. They have to socially distance themselves from others for 12 weeks.
Therefore, businesses have to quickly find new ways to allow those members of staff in the high-risk categories to work from home for at least 12 weeks, as well as others who need to avoid coming into the office or public transport.
This means they need to equip their employees with the technology required to work from home, such as laptops, tablets or mobile phones, and ensure they can access the company’s network system.
Companies also need to ensure cyber security measures remain in place, particularly if their entire workforce has to access the network and private documents through their personal internet connections.
They could have a two-step authentication procedure to make it harder for anyone to hack into the network; make it clear that employees should only use secure connections; and encrypt devices in case they are lost or stolen.
It is also worth companies setting up data plans for those employees who do not have sufficient-enough broadband connections to be able to access work systems, log on to video calls, back up their data, or open large documents.
They should also ensure they equip staff members with devices to enable VoIP solutions, as it is essential all employees remain in communication while everyone is working remotely from the office.
Acas has advice for employers on how to manage homeworkers, reiterating the importance of open communication, saying: “This can be through email, telephone or video conferencing.”
Hugo Mortimer-Harvey, who is a freelance PR consultant, told the BBC that it is essential staff are encouraged to call their colleagues to maintain lines of communication.
“More and more people hide behind email rather than pick up the phone and talk to colleagues and contacts,” he stated, adding: “When you spend the day working on your own, actually calling people and having a conversation can be much more stimulating and indeed productive than a chain of emails.”
What’s more, it takes the pressure off the email system, which could get clogged up with endless messages that could be answered far more quickly on a phone call.
Acas also reminded businesses that performance management is essential. Indeed, it is crucial managers are able to monitor how their staff are working.