Businesses encouraged to remain proactive and take leadership during the current health situation

The current worldwide crisis has dramatically increased the number of people working from home, strengthening the need for employers to support physical, mental and social requirements of their remote employees during this challenging time.  

Many businesses have had to adapt their day-to-day organisational structure and many are now depending on staff maintaining productivity and wellbeing while working from home.

Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) recently hosted a rehabilitation and return to work coordinator’s forum in partnership with their member Strive Occupational Rehabilitation to provide advice and resources to enable businesses to understand their role in rehabilitating remote workers after injury or when returning to a new normal given the current health situation.  

Principal consultant and occupational therapist for Strive, Angela McNamee presented in the one hour online discussion.

“Working from home comes with some well-known risks, from both a physical and psychological perspective, but we have typically had time to plan for this and minimise the risks,” said Ms McNamee.

“During the current health situation, people were told almost overnight and employers didn’t have time to ensure safe work home environments for all of their staff.”

“In the initial stages it seemed that most people were coping okay, but what we’ve noticed in the last few weeks is the cracks are starting to show both from a physical and a psychological perspective.”

“Unless we manage these well, it certainly could lead to an increase in ongoing issues, even after we have returned to work.”

As people adjust to a new normal it is even more important for organisations to be proactive and take on a leadership role to ensure their employees remain calm and aware of their obligations and expectations.

Director of Clifford Gouldson, Danny Clifford, has an extensive knowledge of legal obligations regarding staff working from home and his input was valuable for attendees looking to ensure they are doing the right thing in this new normal.

“There are no exemptions in the law; they equally apply when working from home so it is important to keep clear guidelines and expectations for all employees,” said Mr Clifford.

WorkCover Queensland acknowledges the importance of getting people back to work quickly and efficiently.

Customer Manager, Pablo Aviles said that keeping people connected is key and a supportive employer helps people with a number of recovery elements.

“Our goal is to see people stay at work and recover at work,” said Mr Aviles.

TSBE Health General Manager, Jaden Frame said this forum will be a quarterly event moving forward, hosted by Strive. 

“It has always been important to have procedures in place for staff rehabilitation, but now more than ever it is also important to have flexible but clear guidelines for the large percentage of workers who have had to adapt to a home office,” said Mr Frame.

“Businesses are not able to control everything that happens, but the importance of wholehearted leadership has never been more fundamental.”

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