BCPs, emergency protocol and pandemic contingency policies are hardly matters we thought would dominate our business planning in 2020. Yet change and adapt we must to protect our staff and sustain our businesses for the long haul. WHO (World Health Organisation) Government Director; Dr Michael Ryan puts it best when he informs us that perfect is the enemy of what is right when it comes to emergency management. Whilst we are forced to adopt agile responses to protect our businesses, there are particular issues that SME owners should focus on to protect our organisations for the future.
A lot has been written about working from home focusing on flexible and/or remote working policies.
Employers owe a statutory duty of care to employees in terms of health and safety at work. This extends to conducting risk assessments of homeworking in practical and well-being terms. Consider hours of work, adjustments for employees with protected characteristics and terms of work. Despite the lack of proper opportunity to prepare, planning and communication are vital to promote efficiency and well-being. Review insurance cover and seek assurance that changes to working operations are covered.
Use of equipment and confidentiality policies must be properly addressed. These underpin our working practices and we must learn to work securely from home.
Before you open the virtual door to business please consider the following:-
• Identify the devices being used. Where possible, work should only be conducted on authorised work devices. Have a clear policy on device use.
“Protecting your business for the future”.
• Ascertain what staff know about data protection and confidentiality whilst working remotely.
• Consider the practicalities of where they’ll be working, how they’re saving work information, who they are sharing it with; intentionally or otherwise.
• Choose suitable methods of virtual communication for meetings. WhatsApp Zoom and/or Facebook may not be suitable for your business data protection compliance. The European Commission recently advised workers to steer away from these formats and suggested Signal app software as more suitable.*** https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-commission-to-staff-switch-to-signal-messaging-app/ ***
• Review practical homeworking security measures. Where are paper files or devices being stored? Promote disciplined habits from switch on to switch off when not in use.
• Ensure appropriate technological measures are in place, e.g; encryption of devices and digital communications. Be aware of opportunistic phishing attacks and avoid using personal email accounts to send or receive business information.
• Be mindful of the changes and monitor matters regularly. Keep in touch with staff, seek feedback on effectiveness and efficiency from all stakeholders.
• Promote well-being to and for all staff. Provide signposting services for support. Keep them updated on any changes and remember employees will react at differing levels and differing times.
*** This is shared on an information basis only and the author does not seek to endorse any particular software application***
Sinéad Kelly. LLB CIPD