With the current climate surrounding COVID-19, and the various provincial and federal agencies moving swiftly to recommend self-isolation and quarantines to flatten the curve of spread, many businesses will be faced with the “how will our people be able to work?” question. For some, this will be a temporary measure and relies strictly on technology enablement. For others, it’ll be a realization that telework (“remote work”, “work from home”, “telework”) is here to stay, and an opportunity to set up long-term policies and technologies that enable working remotely.

  1. Messaging and Collaboration: iMessage and text messages won’t cut it in an extended remote-work scenario. It’s critical that your team adopt a collaboration platform like Slack (which we use), Google Hangouts, or Microsoft Teams. Your organization’s current email/calendaring solution may influence which product to use. For instance, a G Suite shop can easily kick off a Google Hangouts initiative, while a Microsoft shop can swiftly deploy a Microsoft Teams solution.
  2. Internal Communication: Most organizations are used to casual and impromptu conversations that happen between staff at their desks or cubicles, and will be surprised by the change in habits when working remotely. It’s important to establish a daily rhythm of communication for either managers or teams. We recommend scheduling a daily morning huddle, as well as an afternoon daily wrap-up meeting in order to get a sense of how things went and how everybody’s doing. You can tweak frequency and schedules as the rhythm settles, and your own team’s work habits will help dictate the changes.
  3. Embrace the Webcam: Seeing your colleagues and staff is critical. Using webcams will help ensure that staff are “showing up to work” just as if they were going to the office. Most importantly, a visual check-in is key to help your staff feel that they’re still part of a great team.
  4. Physical Mail: You may need to temporarily redirect mail to a staff member in order to stay on top of invoices, bills, etc. Canada Post has mail forwarding services that allow redirecting mail temporarily. You also have the option to have mail held for a specific amount of time in order to prevent mail pile-up at your place of business.
  5. Telephones: Most service providers are able to forward phone lines temporarily. You may have a designated staff member take over the phone-answering responsibilities for your business. In other cases, you may be looking to quickly deploy a virtual voice solution (e.g. Zoom, Microsoft Voice) where calls can be redirected.
  6. Data and files: Those with large data sets (design, architecture, engineering) stored on-premises may require some planning in order to deploy an effective solution. For other organizations, it may be an opportunity to migrate to existing file-sharing systems already available with your existing email/calendaring platform. For instance, G Suite has Google Drive and Office 365 has OneDrive. Both solutions are well suited for ongoing remote work. Or, your team may already be using a tool like Dropbox.
  7. Line-of-Business Apps: Many businesses rely on specific applications that are running on their local office infrastructure. In many cases, deploying a Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) solution will suffice to provide staff with the necessary remote access to these applications. In other cases, there may be specific requirements that need a more detailed discussion. In either case, please let us know if you’d like to discuss your particular situation.
  8. Insurance: Reach out to your insurance provider to confirm that any business equipment that is taken home by your staff will be covered by your company’s insurance policy.
  9. HR and Legal: Many businesses have not previously or officially offered telework to their staff, and might be wondering what’s necessary from a legal perspective. While we realize that emergency or sudden preparations may not leave much room for an approach that covers all the legal bases, we wanted to share our own Telework Agreement, in case it’s useful to your organization as a basis for your own.

Use our Teleworking Agreement generator below to create a custom Telework Agreement for your organization.