As business owners and accountants with big life goals we don’t know about you but we’re not prepared to let the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic damage our profit margins or personal career goals and employment strategies. We all have a responsibility to play our part in halting the spread of the virus but if we’re ready to work in a slightly different way we’re confident that recruiting, interviews and the majority of accountancy operations really can be business as usual.
So let’s have a situation report….
With millions around the globe working from home due to the threat of coronavirus, and the UK Government preparing emergency legislation – is it time to update your company policy on remote working?
The answer is probably yes. But that’s not going to happen overnight. So, in the meantime, if you don’t have a robust policy in place, here’s some practical, simple and sensible advice which you can follow in order to keep business booming and workers safe and happy.
1. Perform an IT audit
Laptops, video conferencing equipment, mobile phones – do you have the right hardware and software to operate remotely? If not, address any technical or data issues surrounding workers using their own devices. You’ll also need a primary communication channel where all contact information is held and client information can be stored and recorded. With emails and DMs flying all over the place, investing in a good remote working cyber security programme – and training users, could save you time and money in the long run. Remember, it’s likely that this won’t be the last time that work is disrupted for your business – taking action now means you’re prepared for the next time.
2. Communication is crucial
For those who are used to working remotely, it’s business as usual. But for the workers who are typically office-based, and who also maybe impacted by school closure or other family commitments, this is a stressful time. You’ll need to show your support and empathy. Consider how you are going to check in on them – regular phone calls, a support buddy or a virtual team conference where you can share good practice? Handing out a laptop and telling your staff to work from home would be a costly mistake. It’s vital that you keep workers informed and aligned if you want to ensure business continuity, and happy staff. During this event, you will be expected to be proactive and offer clear guidance as direction. The way in which you handle this will have a huge effect on staff retention and morale.
3. Sickness and travel plans
With the World Health Organisation revising its risk assessment from moderate to high, many companies are restricting global travel – not only to China, but Hong King, Italy and Iran. Others are postponing UK conferences, events and even off-site meetings. Thankfully, we have the tools to conduct meetings virtually and hassle-free – this can include also training, and recruitment. Yes, it’s sometimes favourable to have an in person meet, but don’t delay your plans. It’s uncertain how long the ‘crisis’ will continue.
You have a duty under healthy and safety legislation to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all employees. The UK government have issued guidance on preventing the spread of infection, but you might also consider extending sick day allowances, or waiving sick day caps so your employees don’t feel forced into work if they have any of the symptoms – cough, fever or difficulty breathing. Showing some flexibility around employees needing time off to care for others who are sick or in isolation, may be unprecedented for you as an employer. Our advice is to be as reasonable as possible in these uncertain times.
4. Recruitment or Job Searches
With the right video conferencing technology there is no reason why the impending pandemic should have any effect on your recruitment projects or your search for a new job. A great recruitment consultant can guide you through the process of applying, interviewing and even transitioning someone into a new role virtually.
Garry Howling, Managing Director of Public Practice Recruitment Ltd says:
“As accountants, there is no reason to down tools! If your workers have no symptoms and follow the safety advice provided, the guidance provided by the Government assures us that we can continue to work remotely – or be office-based, without disruption.
However, we appreciate that what is happening at the moment can be scary, unfamiliar and confusing for some, and the impact of coronavirus is changing every day. So, if you need advice on navigating through this epidemic with as little hassle as possible, we can help you formulate an overall strategy.”
We are proud to share our knowledge on all kinds of important matters and will continue to invest in keeping you up to date.
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