As COVID-19 continues to be a prevalent factor in society, lockdowns and restrictions have seen a sharp rise in remote working. While employees are benefitting from the advantages of greater freedom and flexibility during work hours, it has become increasingly difficult for employers to make sure their staff are safe and well.
It is important to remember that employers have a legal responsibility to ensure their staff are safe while at work. According to the New Zealand Government’s Worksafe, the primary duty of care means that a business has the primary responsibility for the health and safety of workers and others influenced by its work:
‘A person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU, or in other words an employer) PCBUs must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a work environment that is without health and safety risks. The work environment includes:
- the physical work environment …
- the psychological work environment, including overcrowding, deadlines, work arrangements (eg the effects of shift-work and overtime arrangements) and impairments that affect a person’s behaviour … such as work-related stress and fatigue.
However, it is important to note that an employer’s duty of care goes beyond the main workplace and includes taking reasonable steps to ensure employees’ safety wherever they have been asked to work, whether that is in the main workplace or another location.
New technology from ADT Security is helping companies to safeguard their employees’ whereabouts and wellbeing, which is not only suitable for workers in high-risk industries, such as drivers, field technicians and in-home health care workers, but is also valuable for large corporations or small businesses with employees working from home or in a hybrid remote environment.
The psychological impact of remote working
According to Stats NZ Tatauranga Aotearoa, data from the General Social Survey (GSS) in the June 2020 quarter showed that 42 percent of New Zealanders felt lonely at least a little of the time in the previous four weeks, compared with 39 percent in the 2018 GSS. The March 2021 quarter showed an increase in the proportion of people who said they did not have enough money to meet everyday needs, from 6.4 percent to 7.3 percent, an increase of almost 40,000 people aged 18 years and older. This means that while New Zealanders have been largely resilient, COVID-19 has still impacted people who may be stuck at home or uncertain about the future of their employment.
Due to financial stress and job uncertainty, many employees are working through their distress alone which has made it a challenge for companies to monitor employee welfare and uphold their duty of care.
New technology helps keep workers safe
Organisations can help better protect their staff using ADT FindU, a new lone worker management platform from ADT Security which can be a lifeline for staff in an emergency. ADT FindU provides a holistic all-in-one solution approach with app-based drive and 24/7 monitoring, protecting workers on-site, off-site and on the road. The technology helps organisations stay connected to their employees’ health and wellbeing through real-time monitoring. Employers can set up geo-zones that notify when an employee enters a designated area, allowing them to instantly confirm that their workforce are safe or respond to duress alerts quickly using accurate GPS locations. This is particularly useful for workers on the road who may operate during late hours or high-risk areas. ADT FindU is also compatible with Android and Apple mobiles, as well as Samsung Galaxy and Apple watches, making it accessible from a wide range of devices and platforms.
Regular staff check-ins
Setting up regular check-in times throughout the day using the ADT FindU app helps employers connect with remote staff at designated times to make sure they are safe or verify completion of high-risk tasks. FindU provides a professional yet social connecting tool, by allowing employees to ‘check in’ and answer questions prior to beginning their session. In a work-from-home situation, this can give employers and employees a platform to connect about personal issues, professional challenge or even share a joke or two.
Should a staff member fail to check in, employers can use the app to contact a worker directly, raise an alert or initiate a follow up call through ADT Security’s monitoring centre which is operational 24/7. Employees can also raise alerts, giving managers or team mates the ability to respond with FindU by seeing who’s in the area and allocate resources accordingly. Either way, ADT FindU helps organisations to establish and maintain a strong connection between people working in isolation.
Remote working and COVID-19 may have separated teams across the country, but despite the current landscape there are valuable tools available, like ADT FindU, that allow us to live and work freely and independently, safe in the knowledge that help is never far away.
If you’re concerned about keeping your remote workforce safe and secure during the pandemic, call us on 13 12 38.