Few of us are prepared for closed centres with staff working remotely. Is this even possible? Mostly the answer is “yes,” but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. Step one is to think about your staff’s ability to communicate remotely with each other and with the families they support. Where are the black holes? Can you creatively manage virtual programs? What digital interfaces would you use (ZOOM, Skype, phone, text or regular email)? Perhaps a simple weekly text check-in or call is enough, but maybe it’s a free Skype video chat with a family who has internet access. Even one inexpensive ZOOM meeting subscription would facilitate virtual staff meetings or group parent sessions (internet).
If admin staff work from home, how is your IT security? Check for Virtual Private Networks on home systems and that Windows 10 anti-virus controls are turned on: older Windows systems may need a purchased anti-virus app. Consider two to three months of internet/cell phone subsidies or Skype phone credits in lieu of cell minutes for employees using home devices/plans for work. And what about employees who cannot work from home? Perhaps allow limited office access so long as social distancing (two meters) is observed.
It would be prudent to ask your IT provider if you have sufficient bandwidth and a strong backup system for remote work: those using the Cloud will be limited only by home internet speeds. Don’t forget to check basics like headphones/quality earbuds, cameras and audio if not built into work laptops or home computers. And, have up-to-date staff phone trees and critical numbers (Board, partners, suppliers, professional services). In a perfect world, business continuity practices are in place and tested, however, few of us will be in this happy place. We will all be doing the best we can.
A Message from Kelly Stone,
President & CEO, Families Canada