Effectively managing staff across multiple locations

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The nature of work and workplaces changed dramatically over the past year with many employees forced to work from home and capacity limits introduced in offices, retail environments and manufacturing facilities.

For many small-business owners, managing a remote workforce and ensuring they remain safe, and work effectively, while comply with COVID-safe workplace guidelines continues to be a time-consuming and challenging exercise. Particularly when they have no in-house human resources teams and different locations are experiencing unique conditions and protocols.

To address this businesses are increasingly turning to technology platforms and pre-defined templates to effectively automate their employee check-in and daily workload processes.

These technology platforms use drag-and-drop workflow templates to contact employees about which location they plan to work from the following day. Based on whether the employee’s response was ‘home’, ‘office’ or other remote location, the platform will automatically send contextually relevant follow-up information to the recipient. For example, employees who respond ‘office’ may be reminded of social distancing restrictions, the availability of hand sanitizer and face masks, as well as on-site facilities that have been closed.

Businesses can utilise workflows to set time limits for responses with employees who do not respond within the required time frame automatically sent a tailored follow-up message. Business owners will then be sent a notification so they can follow-up those employees that didn’t respond, if necessary. Our research of more than 120 million communications interactions shows that when recipients are conditioned to anticipate interactive communications, they are also more likely to consume the content and reply.

These easy-to-build templates can be configured to capture and identify multiple relevant responses, such as ‘wfh’, ‘city’ and ‘factory’. Messages and follow-up content are entirely customisable and can be prepared in advance and easily updated as required, enabling businesses to effectively inform employees of changing conditions. For example, if new COVID-safe restrictions are

implemented at short notice, you may decide to send an additional message to all employees that have elected to work from the office tomorrow that they are now required to wear a face mask while inside the premises. Depending on the urgency, you can select whether you want to trigger messages and follow-up responses automatically or manually.

Technology platforms not only enable the automation of employee location processes, but also provide an auditable record of these interactions with staff. The workflow templates ensure send an email to the business owner or HR of recorded employee responses. In the event of an on-premises COVID-19 outbreak, businesses can easily and securely provide information of who was on-site on that day and time to health authorities. These multi- purpose communications platforms can also be used to effectively contact impacted staff of the outbreak across multiple delivery channels, such as text, email, WhatsApp and video, in real-time.

For small businesses with lone workers in the field, the same platform can also be utilised to conduct frequent staff safety checks throughout the day. The platform can also be used for a range of other HR-related purposes, such as shift availability, health declarations and wellness checks.

The good news for small businesses is that technology platforms, such as Whispir, easily integrate with your existing IT systems, including CRM, staff distribution lists and payroll, and are designed to be implemented and used without external IT expertise. So, you won’t have to invest in hiring an IT developer.

Your staff are your most important asset so ensuring they feel comfortable returning to the workplace is essential. By utilising communications technology platforms, small businesses can easily engage with staff to ensure their workplace complies with COVID-safe capacity limits. And get back to focusing on running their business.

Ben Erskine, Head of Content, communications workflow platform Whispir

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