COVID 19: Are your employees equipped to work from home?


Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID 19) is rapidly changing the way we live and work. Remote work is no longer a term for freelancers and gig workers only, but everyone’s present reality. Here’s how you can help your employees work from home.

Protecting your employees against COVID 19

Over the past few weeks, South Africans have had to adapt to a new normal. Staying at home to help contain the virus has meant changing how you structure your day and go about living your life. It has also changed how we work and harness technology to bridge the distance between us.

Employers scarcely had time to ask themselves the following questions before remote work became a reality: Is my business ready for remote work? What are the practical implications of having my employees work from home? Am I technologically prepared for such a transition?

Whether you were ready or not, you’ve had to persevere. You probably learned a few hard lessons over the past few weeks, and gained valuable insights into your employees. Here are a few ways you can equip and empower your employees to work from home.

Three priorities for employers

Global consulting firm Accenture released a report in March 2020 called ‘Productivity in uncertain times through the elastic digital workforce: A practical guide of actions your business should take now’. In their research, Accenture outlines three priorities of all businesses:

  1. Protecting and empowering your employees
  2. Meeting your clients’ core needs
  3. Establishing business continuity

To do this, Accenture recommends that employers need to start creating a more flexible digital workforce. This means changing your workplace culture, adopting new technologies for remote collaboration, and upgrading your security protocols to make sure your business data stays protected, even if your employees are working from home.

Accenture recommends the following steps:

  • Assess your technology capabilities, your communications plan and support structure.
  • Determine how you can use existing technology more effectively. Develop a leadership and culture awareness and change plan. Your change management plan should include how you will encourage employees to adopt key technologies for remote work.
  • Modernise and scale your collaboration capabilities and your workforce engagement plans.

For more detail, read the full report in the source list.

Leading in uncertain times

Change is never easy, especially when you have a large workforce that has always worked from an office. The role of leadership will be key in:

  • Keeping your employees updated on COVID 19, and providing accurate, factual information to prevent panic and the spread of fake news
  • Protecting your employees by giving them access to services such as healthcare, mental wellbeing resources, and online education for their children
  • Creating a transparent change management plan that includes the diverse needs and opinions of the people who keep your organisation running
  • Helping your employees use existing technologies more effectively and teaching them how to use new technologies
  • Listening to employees’ feedback on what works and what doesn’t, and being flexible enough to change direction if needed
  • Upgrading your security systems to protect your company and employee data

Remote work comes with its own challenges, and there will be people in your business who need more help than others in making the change.

No one business is the same, and so employers need to assess their own situation and capabilities, determine what their employees need to work from home, and devise a plan of action that is easy to understand and change, if needed.

For more information on COVID 19, take a look at Discovery Health’s dedicated COVID 19 webpage.

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