Strategies and advice for businesses to stay in control through COVID-19 and get ahead of the pack

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COVID-19 Business Continuity – 20th April

I’m here with the COVID-19 business continuity update for today, Monday 20th April.

In today’s update:
1. Unwinding working from home
2. Staff productivity while working at home during COVID-19
3. Enrol for JobKeeper

 

1. Unwinding working from home

When the impact of COVID-19 first started being experienced in Australia, many businesses instructed staff to work from home. At that time, it was a prudent decision; the infection rates were high and there were many unknowns about how the disease was being transmitted.
Having staff working from home has presented its own challenges, particularly around communicating with a distanced team and productivity.

Where your business is still finding it difficult to manage your remote workforce, it might be appropriate to wind back working from home. Resuming work in the office is best suited in businesses where exposure risks are low, such as:

  • Staff who only drive their own cars to work (i.e. they don’t use public transport to commute to work);
  • Workplaces that have the required 4sqm available per person.
    (A point to note here is that you only need to have the space available – you don’t have to stay 4 square metres apart. The PM’s example is this: “If you have meeting room that is 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room.”)
  • Having a reduced number of people in the office while some staff continue to work from home and/or home school their children.

If you are bringing staff back into the office, ensure you have taken steps to mitigate transmission risks:

  • Communicate hygiene best practices: regularly washing hands with soap for 20 seconds (I have attached a template sign you can use);
  • Provide hand sanitiser;
  • Ensure people are aware and practice socially distancing of 1.5 metres at all times (particularly in spaces that typically have high traffic such as kitchens and bathrooms);
  • Regularly sanitise contact surfaces such as door handles, tables, taps and toilet flush buttons.

Talk to your business coach about how to discuss with your staff their return to your office.

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2. Staff productivity while working at home during COVID-19

Some businesses will not find it possible yet to unwind working from home for staff, particularly in the circumstances of working parents who have been required to take on homeschooling while the Victorian government keeps schools shut.
There are a range of things you can do to keep connected with your remote workers and keep the focus on being productive:

1.  Be clear about the outcomes you expect and timeframes

On a daily basis, consult with your staff member and agree what you expect them to be working on and when it should be delivered. Some people perform well with autonomy while others require closer involvement – adapt your expectations for different work styles. You’ll want to ensure that whatever amount of involvement they require keeps them on track and accountable.

2.  Where appropriate or necessary, track the time worked

In some cases, it may be helpful to keep the focus on productivity by tracking time worked – for many roles, it’s an effective way to maintain, or even improve, productivity.  If you do choose to track time, you can look at some free online tools such as TimeTracker and Toggle but you can also use low/no tech options such as word, email, etc.

3. Have regular team meetings via video conferencing or phone

Schedule a regular time for a team meeting. Get the most out of the time by having a clear plan of what you want to communicate and what you want your team to update you on. Use the meetings to set priorities and keep momentum. Also make a point of celebrating the wins – even small wins will keep the team spirit alive.

4. Individual catch-ups

At Tenfold we’ve always advocated for regular meetings or catch-ups with individual team members; this is more important with remote working practices in place.  In a normal office environment, you’d probably have impromptu chats with your team members throughout the day as they’d come to you with questions and issues. In a remote work arrangement, those ad hoc chats won’t happen so it’s up to you to make the effort to call individual staff members and keep the lines of communication open.

Staff who are required to homeschool their children during COVID-19

There’s a chance that school closures could be wound back after the end of the state of emergency (11th May), or if not then, home schooling could continue until the beginning of term 3 (mid-July). We’re keeping a watching brief on the Vic government decision.

In the meantime, negotiate working arrangements with staff who will be home schooling. For example, you may agree that your staff member could do some work earlier in the morning and then later in the afternoon and into the evening.

There’s no real norm here: situations will vary from home to home (e.g. younger children will need more hands-on schooling while older kids may be more self-sufficient).

Consider if you need to reduce the working hours to meet their caring responsibilities. The key point here is to manage each on a case by case basis. Your Tenfold business coach will assist you to negotiate arrangements that balance flexibility with productivity.

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3. Enrolments now open for JobKeeper

The ATO has opened the enrolments for JobKeeper. You may have received an email from the ATO to enroll. If not, go here: https://www.ato.gov.au/general/jobkeeper-payment/employers/enrol-for-the-jobkeeper-payment/
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And in more good news, Victoria had one new coronavirus case yesterday out of 7,000 tests conducted over the weekend. This is the kind of result that we’re all hoping for.

Ash

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