How can we promote a safety culture for our remote teams?

Q:

Some of our employees work remotely. What can we do to promote a culture of safety for these workers?

A:

Developing a safety culture with your remote team is all about connecting employees to your safety program through best practice communication and modeled behavior. Here's what you can do to establish and nurture a culture of safety with your remote teams.

Share Information and Meet Regularly

To ensure that your remote team is engaged in your safety program, make communication your number one priority. Review incidents and near misses with everyone as soon as they occur. Establish and connect with safety committees on a regular schedule to review policy and procedures systematically.

Welcome input regarding safety from both individuals and teams (find out How to Create a Safety First Culture). Be inclusive, an active listener, and ensure that everyone has a voice, whether it be through an online suggestion box, an employee survey, or through a regular agenda item at both team and one-on-one meetings.

Simply put, communication is the crucial ingredient in engaging your remote team and developing and maintaining your safety culture.

Make Use of Technology

Managing a remote workforce requires both new skills and refining existing practices to meet the needs of your workers and your organization. You will need to establish a digital and analog toolkit to connect and share information with your team.

Even though it is essential to make use of a variety of digital and more traditional communication tools, be specific about which tools will be used by your company. It is essential that everyone is on the same platform and knows how to participate.

Use these tools to do the same thing that you would in a traditional workplace environment. Make use of your toolkit to hold individual and team meetings, discuss incidents, review policy, establish clear expectations, and celebrate success.

Model the Behavior You Want

Model the actions that you want by consistently demonstrating that both safety and the success of your remote team are top priorities. Set up online safety drills and ensure that everyone participates.

It is important to emphasize that you have the same expectations of your remote teams as you would for on-site workers. Developing a safety culture with your remote team is just as important as it is in a traditional workplace environment. A demonstration of confidence and flexibility with your remote workforce will make them feel included, enhance their ability to do their job, and improve your ability to instill an effective safety culture.

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Written by Brad Hestbak
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Brad Hestbak is a communications advisor, fundraiser, and writer. His career has included leadership roles at several post-secondary institutions throughout Alberta, including Athabasca University, Medicine Hat College, and the University of Alberta. He lives on a small farm alongside the Athabasca River, approximately 225 km north of Edmonton, with too many dogs, horses, and donkeys.

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