Planning for Safe and Efficient Long-Term Remote Work
As we enter this new year having learned how adaptable our companies can be, many organizations are beginning to incorporate long-term remote work plans. With a rise in permanent remote work strategies, organizations need to assess their solutions to ensure employees can work remotely in the most efficient and safe manner.
It is expected that employees are provided devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops in order to do their work from home, and these devices operate off the company network. Companies are also adopting collaborative solutions such as Webex, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom to allow employees to effectively communicate and work together while in a dispersed environment.
However, an organization’s responsibility should not end at providing an employee with devices and software from which they can accomplish their work. Regardless of where they may be working, organizations are responsible for their employees’ safety while they are on the clock and using devices and/or software that operate off the company network.
Don’t Forget This Important Part of Keeping Your Remote Workers Safe (It also keeps your company compliant with federal legislation!)
Remote worker safety is multi-faceted and oftentimes the focus is on topics such as device or software security, mental health awareness, and home office ergonomics. While these are all highly important, one of the most crucial components of keeping your remote workers safe is overlooked: equal access to emergency services.
In terms of providing employees equal access to emergency services, there are now federally mandated E911 requirements that apply to all businesses with Multi-Line Telephone Systems, or MLTS. This includes your traditional phone system, as well as collaborative softphone applications like the ones we discussed above (Webex, Microsoft Teams, Zoom etc.).
The Pizza Test
If you’re wondering whether these requirements will apply to your organization, try out the pizza test. If an employee can dial out for pizza from a device or a software that operates off your company network, then your systems need to meet certain E911 standards.
Where Are Your Devices? What Types of Devices Need to Be Compliant?
It is also helpful to know the language that the Federal Communications Commission used when creating E911 regulations. This will help you when determining the best solution for your specific environment. What will provide your company 100% compliance and your employees 100% safety?
First, think about where all your devices are located:
- On-Premise: a device located within the physical enterprise
- Off-Premise: a device located outside the physical enterprise
Second, think about the types of devices that your company has located on-premise or off-premise:
- Static: a device that is a hard phone, or any tangible phone that may sit on a desk or stay in common areas such as a kitchen, conference room, or the front desk
- Nomadic: a device that is a soft phone, or any device (laptop, tablet, smartphone) that has a soft phone application
It is easy to forget about an employee’s access to emergency services when they are off-premise and using nomadic devices. If your company issues nomadic devices that travel off-premise, make sure that you are in compliance with federal E911 legislation, and have implemented an E911 solution that allows for 100% compliance. Being 100% compliant automatically ensures E911 protection for remote workers using nomadic devices on the network, and will keep remote workers safe in the event they dial 9-1-1 (regardless of where they may be).
E911 Solutions Provide Compliance for Companies with Remote Workers
In 2019, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Report and Order which established rules and regulations for both Kari’s Law and Ray Baum’s Act. Deadlines for Kari’s Law and the first part of the Ray Baum Act have already passed, and if your company has an MLTS check to make sure you are not out of compliance. This will mean that your organization has an up-to-date E911 solution in place.
The goal for 2021 is preparing your company to comply with the final deadline of the Ray Baum Act, which arrives in January of 2022. This means you will need to provide dispatchable locations to the Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) in the event a remote worker dials 9-1-1 using a nomadic device on the company network.
A good way to begin preparing is by asking a few questions:
- Am I compliant with Kari’s Law and the first phase of the Ray Baum Act?
- How many remote workers do I have that will need E911 protection?
- How many company-issued devices does each remote worker use?
- What type of softphone applications are my remote workers using?
- How will we route a remote worker’s 9-1-1 call to the correct PSAP?
Finding the right E911 solution and implementing it across your company can take time. Being proactive about E911 compliance not only prevents potential fines, but keeps your remote workers safe while they work from home.
However, E911 does not have to be a challenge. Don’t wait a whole year to begin your path to 100% compliance! We are here to help if you need more information, or assistance when determining what E911 solution would best work for your environment.