Recently, more organizations have employees who work from home, and this requires a little thought to ensure compliance with the quality management system (ISO 9001: 2015). The question is, how does your organization ensure that the right infrastructure for work, communication, and meetings is created and has sufficient capacity to function and be protected? Fortunately, ISO 9001 has several requirements in terms of infrastructure, work environment and communications that help you consider what should be considered in this scenario for business continuity.
ISO 9001 clauses for remote employees
- Section 7.1.3 – Infrastructure
- Section 7.1.4 – Workplace
- Section 7.4 – Communications
Section 7.1.3 – Infrastructure
Infrastructure in teleworking is a key consideration and relates to the physical buildings, equipment and information technology needed to deliver products and services. When everyone is in the same building, it is much easier to manage; But when dealing with a remote work situation, you want to think about the impact of people’s infrastructure at home.
One of the first things you need to think about when working from home is the potential for problems with IT infrastructure and cybersecurity. If you have significant concerns, you may need an Information Security Management System (ISMS), for which the ISO 27001 standard is considered.
For IT, you need to make sure people have the hardware they need to do their job. For example, where you used to have a secure computer and Internet connection, you will no longer be able to access them remotely, so you need to make sure that these needs are met. In addition, do people have the right software to do their jobs, including additional software such as teleconferencing software or a virtual private network (VPN) for Internet security? In addition, is cloud service enough to share information with employees, or do you need something different to do, such as a secure drive in your company with VPN access?
Other infrastructural concerns may be specific to your situation; But some of them will have a greater impact on the environment for the performance of processes (also called the work environment). For example, is there a physical resource needed for employees to set up offices in their home, such as a desk or chair?
Section 7.1.4 – Workplace
In addition to infrastructure, you should also consider the home work environment. As stated in ISO 9001, a suitable environment includes a combination of physical and human factors, including the social and psychological aspects of work. Like infrastructure, this will change a lot when workers work remotely.
While it is impossible to control physical factors when people are not in your building, such as temperature, airflow and hygiene, you can certainly train employees to create a safe ergonomic work environment. The same can be said of social factors.
When it comes to human factors, this is probably one of the biggest concerns of home-based employees and can be one of the most difficult problems. Consider how you will support employees in reducing stress, preventing burnout, and providing emotional protection. Solutions may range from psychological support training to communication and more support for employees struggling with privacy. It is important to know that some tasks may take longer and some employees may seek psychological help to cope with not being in the office. You need to find ways to support the mental health of your employees, as this may become a top priority for your business.
Section 7.4 – Communications
After infrastructure, one of the biggest considerations for telecommuting is ensuring that this new reality is communicated. Communications and training are already mentioned in the Infrastructure and Workplace section of this article. For example, you may need to implement telecommunications software or develop training in new infrastructure.
In addition, finding new channels of communication is important when it is not possible for an employee to stop working to train or clarify tasks. Making regular calls for coordination may be necessary to ensure the flow of communication and to resolve uncertainties about the overall work situation at home. Communications should include considerations for employee-to-employee communication, manager-employee communication, senior communication with the company, and further communication with customers and suppliers.
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