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Working through the Corona Virus! Things to consider when working from home.
As we come to terms with a nationwide lock-down, there are many businesses facing a very different working environment. For those whose jobs cannot be done from home how do you manage your staff to minimise the risk to their health, but also minimise the risk to your company of not being able to trade effectively and ultimately protect everyone’s livelihood.
The starting point as always in assessing risk is a logical step by step process to evaluate risks and rate their consequences in turn. A formal structured Risk Assessment document can be as simple as a one page listing the threats and how you intend to manage them.
Our advice for the moment would be to start simply, but to maintain a watching brief and also to encourage creativity within your workforce as this could lead to new opportunities.
At the moment, the main focus is likely to be on avoiding the Virus, then assessing how new processes can affect employees and customers. Designing a new method of trading to minimise losses can be quite a difficult process.
The Government is producing guidelines for us in terms of social distancing, but the significant question to ask yourself is how can you fulfil those, but still be a customer service led business?
For the lucky businesses already set up to allow their employees to work from home, it might seem obvious to simply send all the staff home, but there are risks to consider if you haven’t considered this scale of spread. Lone working and even simple social Isolation can affect mental health in an already pressured national environment.
Communication will always be key in business, but how do you allow your employees to be productive at home without going all Big Brother on them, and how do you manage workload remotely if you are no longer in the same room.
For mentors and training staff, remote working adds another hurdle, services such as WhatsApp group chats, Teamviewer and other live chat software can make up for some of this, but being able to listen in on customer calls and provide support as and when required becomes much more of a technical challenge for on the job training staff.
Working from home and insurance
From an insurance perspective, businesses need to consider how their exposure might have already changed and will continue to change, throughout the next few months and how their broker can help them through this crisis.
There are a number of items to consider if your renewal is coming up, as well as your ongoing duty to your insurers to keep them informed of any changes, but considering those well in advance and working with your insurance broker to keep your insurer abreast of changes will pay huge dividends should you need to call upon your insurance cover to protect you.
Below are some key points to consider:
Are your assets protected: you may have an alarm at your business premises, but if staff are taking computers and even stock home to continue their roles, is it adequately secured. Do you have a method of recording what has been taken, what has been moved and to where, as well as considered how it might be used against your business if stolen?
Cyber security is potentially a massive exposure at the moment given the number of people using unfamiliar working processes and businesses scrambling to share information with staff. We would advise all businesses who are offering remote working to properly review this and consider the consequences of a breach.
We have already seen floods of phishing emails looking to trick staff into revealing account login information and it is unlikely to stop in the near future.
Management decisions taken under pressure can lead to increased Directors and Officers exposure and this is a relatively inexpensive cover to add to your professional protection (for the moment) call us to find out more about this.
From a liability perspective, your Public Liability exposure may have changed if your working methods are different. It is also really important to consider your Employers duties under the Employers liability act, is everything adequately assessed and reviewed, have your employees now working from home carried out their working environment checks, display screen assessments, even trip hazards from newly installed networking cables could lead to a claim.
Income projections and cashflow problems – Risk assessing cashflow and income at the moment is almost an impossible task, we currently have no real concrete projections as to how we might recover from the effects of the Virus, only projections of how long we might need to take extra-ordinary measures to prevent its spread. Many of our renewal clients especially in retail and services are declaring much reduced turnovers and may generate savings on insurance premiums as a result.
If you would like to discuss your needs with an advisor, we are continuing to offer full support, albeit some of our staff are working remotely. We have reduced our on-site visits to clients and are experiencing some delays from insurers, but are working hard to continue to provide value for money and professional advice to all our existing and potential new customers.
Our Clarke Williams advisers are all qualified to discuss and guide you in your needs as part of your insurance review, although we are not qualified to undertake risk assessments for you we can provide further guidance and templates for common areas.
If required, we can also provide contact details for several local companies whom we trust to assist.
For more information, please contact us on 01732 252898 or email us on Info@clarkewilliams.co.uk
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