As coronavirus cases rise across the nation, more and more organizations are encouraging employees to work from home to avoid potential exposure and spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Many behavioral health organizations may struggle with this change. While it may not be appropriate for all organizations or all employees, allowing remote work for some staff can help reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus.
Here are some ways to get your staff on board with remote work and encourage productivity even when telecommuting.
1. Understand the legal issues involved.
For behavioral health and addiction treatment providers, telecommuting may involve both labor and healthcare laws. Contact your legal counsel before allowing any staff members to work remotely, to make sure you are compliant with all applicable laws.
You should also consider how healthcare privacy laws may apply to the work your staff will be doing remotely, and the devices or software they may use. If any company property is being used off-site, make sure employees also understand their individual responsibilities.
2. Choose appropriate collaboration tools.
Besides any software you already use in the office, you may need to start using additional tools for employees who work remotely. You may use Slack, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype for meetings or instant messaging. Share documents and information with file-hosting services like Dropbox or Google Drive, though be careful to use these tools in adherence to HIPAA and other laws.
3. Set expectations for all team members.
Behavioral health practice staff should all be equally informed when implementing a new policy, including the start of telecommuting. Make sure that all staff members, on-site or off-site, understand:
Expected work hours
How communication will be shared
How to use any software or other tools used for collaboration
The time and frequency of any conference calls or video meetings
Each team member’s responsibilities
Be sure that all employees, whether working on-site or remotely, are held the same standard when it comes to the quality of their work. Team members should all be held the same expectations when it comes to their work hours, level of client service, and response times to communications.
Treat all employees, whether in-office or remote, equally. Those team members who are still on-site should not be expected to cover for others working remotely.
4. Stay calm.
The coronavirus outbreak still has many unknowns and uncertainties, from day-to-day safety measures to long-term economic impacts. This uncertainty can create anxiety, fear, and stress, which can reduce productivity and increase the risk of physical illness.
Behavioral health practice leaders should keep this in mind and be calm and reassuring to their staff and clients at every opportunity. Be friendly when talking to all employees; make sure to check in with remote workers and ask how they are doing. Stay optimistic and empathetic when interacting with all employees, and keep your fears or anxieties in check.
Help your behavioral health practice stay effective during the coronavirus outbreak
As the coronavirus outbreak continues across the United States, many behavioral health organizations are considering adding telehealth to their practice for the first time.
If you’re looking to offer your behavioral health or addiction treatment services remotely, BestNotes EHR has features that leverage low-cost telehealth solutions, such as Zoom or GoToMeeting.
Contact our team to learn more, or schedule a free demo!