Canadian Underwriter

Why remote workers should stay where they are

July 6, 2020   by Adam Malik

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Staff members who are working from home should stay there for the foreseeable future, one risk leader recommends.

Scott Fouts, vice president of risk services at Hub, stated his recommendation during a webinar hosted by Hub, Workplace Safety: Employer Obligations and Best Practices.

“If they can still work remote, I highly recommend keeping them remote as long as you can,” Fouts said, adding that offices will be safer with a lower concentration of people coming and going. “The concept here is you want to make sure you’re looking at the employees who are critical to your operation [and] that you’re bringing them back first.”

By doing that, leaders need to make sure their brokers have everything they need to continue working from home successfully, whether that be providing them with more equipment or other support to do their job. “Depending on the type of business that you’re in, you want to make sure they’re equipped with the right products and services so that they can continue being productive,” Fouts said.

However, you should also have a plan in place in case remote employees do need to make a trip into the office. “You want to make sure you’re setting a place up for them to not only be productive when they come in, but have their own supplies — whether it’s a stapler, a pen,” he said.

When assisting commercial clients that operate warehouses, brokers should be advising them “to make sure there isn’t really any communal-type sharing of equipment,” he advised. “Ultimately, if you can do a job rotation, or if you can do staggered shifts, or [if you can do] some type of work schedule where you’re off-setting and creating that social distancing, that’s probably the best way to do it.”

Whether it’s the remote employees coming in for only one day, or the essential staff members who have to be there every day, hygiene is going to be a top concern, Fouts observed. People are going to cough and sneeze, so having sanitizer and hand wipes accessible will be important. Remind employees of proper hygiene, whether it’s communicated directly to them or through signage, he added.

What about the office layout? Could that change? Many office spaces nowadays have transformed into open-air, open space workplaces. Could a return to the cubicle-style of workplace be in the cards? Maybe not in the way it used to be, Fouts said, but there could be more partitions between work spaces going forward.

Consider also physical changes to the office space that might promote safer human behaviours. Take, for example, a meeting room that had 10 chairs around a table. Going forward, maybe there are only five chairs. Arrows could indicate the flow of movement around the office, while communal areas might be closed.

“We’re trying to curb human behaviour and promote social distancing,” Fouts said. “We’re living in a new normal where that’s what you might have to do.”

Other changes that brokerages could see is how they meet with their customers. Travel is likely to be limited — and should be because the exposures in other offices are unknown, Fouts said. “You need to make sure that’s part of your workplace hygiene — to make sure that if you’re travelling, to keep those folks out of the office. Because once they come in, that’s potential for contamination.”


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6 Comments » for Why remote workers should stay where they are
  1. Risk Guru says:

    This guy is clueless and probably has not produced a dime of insurance in his life. It sounds like his mantra is to stay at home and be afraid.

    • Although I can reason with his argument I do agree with you, Risk, that the mantra is alive and well. It’s a general fear, aided by these persepctives and arguments, that end up infiltrating the minds of business owners and even our collegues that restict us from seriously moving forward to develop ways to safely implement a back-to-work plan.

    • Phil says:

      Risk Guru,

      You may not be familiar with how to manage risk. One key principal of risk management is risk avoidance. Where possible, a company should avoid unnecessary risk. Where avoidance isn’t practical the risk must be managed to an acceptable level. This article is on point with these principles.

  2. Joe Stonehouse says:

    I am guessing Risk Guru voted for Trump. Trumps concept for dealing with the COVID is working well for the USA. How clueless can someone be. You don’t have to be afraid but work smart. There is a virus, it is making people sick and killing many and it is not going away anytime soon. I think we need to continue to have workers, when possible, working from home and move to an office environment that has some workers coming into the office for a day or two a week, alternating and setting up the office for distancing, partitions, and sanitizing.

    I have produced personal lines and mostly commercial business for 46 years and continue to do that, from home.

  3. Philip says:

    Great article, a practical approach to keeping safe while getting back to work.

  4. Bruce Rabik says:

    My concern is the tone of disrespect in these comments. It is NOT an argument to attack someone by saying they are clueless- if you cannot argue with their arguments then personal slander is not the way to go. Likewise saying that the disrespectful person probably voted for someone unpopular and therefore trying to tarnish them by association is also NOT an argument. I suggest that everyone NEVER respond to anyone who uses such techniques. And don’t respond to anyone who hides behind a handle and not their name. Thanks

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