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One our clients that recognised at the outset the challenges created by the move to working from home mandated by Australia's response to the pandemic was Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS). Their staff consisted of teachers, school office staff and central/regional office staff ranging in age from 18 to 80 years of age.
GRC Solutions decided to develop a series of free online courses that would provide practical, helpful tips for working from home.
While many vendors offer courses about remote-working, GRC Solutions wanted to create training specifically in and for these times, that directly addressed the urgency and fear of, as well as the unique challenges brought about by, our present historical moment. The aim was to help learners grapple with the complexities of not just working from home but of having to do so rapidly, in a climate of considerable angst. The training was intended to help people become self-aware of how these challenges might affect them on a range of different fronts, including their mental health and wellbeing, their physical surroundings and personal lives, their use of technology and understanding of cyber security, their communication practices with colleagues and their productivity and motivation.
GRC Solutions recognised the need to develop training quickly, and to find ways to respond to the present moment without obsessively repeating the media cycle of dreadful news about COVID-19 that was causing some people to experience adverse mental health issues and panic in the first place.
The training needed to be short, succinct and easily accessible for organisations to enrol their staff in and for individuals who wanted to select courses separately
The Working from Home suite was developed using GRC Solutions’ proprietary Salt Adaptive platform by the in house content development team, with access to its IT and legal compliance teams for specific subject matter expertise. It has drawn on a wide range of materials, from best practices in HR policies to the neuroscience of learning and flow psychology. The suite was conceived as a series of microlearning pieces that could be accessed by individuals or deployed to organisations’ Salt sites for the benefit of their staff.
Each week, a new course appeared that variously addressed the mental, physical, social and cultural aspects of working from home under present conditions.
Course content was designed to acknowledge common problems and challenges that people may be facing, before providing a series of tips, tricks and suggested actions with an uplifting, aspirational conclusion that helped learners think beyond the current crisis. Drawing on GRC Solutions’ expertise in creating topical microlearning, the courses often drew on news headlines – for example, stories about the rise in COVID-19 related phishing scams or the challenges involved in managing team members who may have different levels of concern about the pandemic – while always resolving problems with helpful, solution-oriented guidance.
The Working from Home suite has been developed as an open-ended series, accommodating the need to quickly add new courses in response to new areas of professional concern as the pandemic continues. The content is dynamic, flexibly addressing changing circumstances as time goes on.
It is mobile and tablet responsive, designed to ensure that learners can access the training on their preferred devices at any time.
Since the Working from Home suite launched, tens of thousands of learners have now sat the training, including all 9500 staff at Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS).
Feedback from SCS indicated that staff found the courses easy to use and to navigate their way through the resource. They appreciated the simple implementation and rollout process, which saved the organisation considerable time. Learners noted how the training gave them simple tips that they could easily apply within their own homes; it highlighted the way that workstations set up at home might need altering to maximise productivity, mitigate exhaustion or mental distress and establish a clear distinction between people’s personal and professional lives. The courses facilitated discussions between staff and the SCS’s Health/Wellbeing Team to ensure that any risks associated with working from home were rectified.
According to SCS, the impact of rolling out the Working from Home suite was that it raised awareness of the various compliance and wellbeing-related challenges associated with working from home. It ensured that discussions were generated between employees and their managers to work collaboratively, problem-solve and achieve an outcome to ensure successful working from home practices could be implemented in a safe and sustainable manner.
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