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About the remote working guidance

Organisations need some capacity for remote working. Find out who this guidance is for, how it can be used and how it was developed.

Who this guidance is for

This guidance is for ICT managers, chief information officers, technical leads, managers and leaders who have a role in ensuring their organisations can support remote working. It can be used to advise decision makers on an organisation’s risks and readiness for remote working.

What it covers and how it can be used

This guidance primarily focuses on digital and technical considerations for remote working. It includes information on devices, connectivity, access to tools, systems and information, and security for remote working. It also notes the importance of considering the unique context for each remote worker.

After reading the guidance, the list of prompts can be used to help your organisation consider its readiness for remote working, and any changes that need to be made, including to business continuity plans.

Summary of remote working considerations

How it was developed

The guidance is informed by subject matter experts from across government. Agency and systems leaders shared their insights about remote working and digital capabilities when physical distancing requirements were put in place for COVID-19. Subject matter experts provided current information about being ready for remote working.

Some capacity for remote working is necessary

Remote working has become important for all government organisations as a business as usual approach that supports flexible ways of working, and in response to incidents that prevent working from an office site.

Flexible work arrangements

Remote working is one type of flexible working. In 2018, Ministers committed to the Gender Pay Gap Action Plan milestone that by the end of 2020 all public service agencies would be flexible-by-default.

This means shifting from asking ‘why should a role be flexible?’ to ‘why not?’. It means treating all roles as suitable for flexible working and exploring how flexibility could work, unless there is a genuine business reason for any role not to be. It does not mean that all types of flexibility will be possible for every role.

Managers and employees should work together to agree on a flexible arrangement that works for them, their team and the agency.

Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission has guidance for organisations about shifting to flexible work arrangements, including ways to build culture and develop policies to support the transition.

Remote working to support business continuity

When work needs to be done remotely after an incident, for example COVID-19, it’s important to consider what support, information, equipment, and access to tools and information workers need, and incorporate these in business continuity planning.

Planning ahead for remote working supports a smoother transition if physical distancing is required, an office site is no longer accessible, or work needs to be shifted or shared with a different workforce at another location.

Business continuity planning (BCP) and management prepare an organisation to handle many kinds of disruptions and get back on course. Often emergencies mean a BCP must be activated immediately. Organisations need to be ready to shift to remote working quickly. This means thinking ahead about the digital capabilities that are required.

Business continuity management — National Emergency Management Agency

Other drivers for remote working

Remote working capabilities can be applied to a wider range of objectives that organisations may have. Other drivers for remote working are still emerging.

In the future, organisations may want to: 

  • support off-site working for whole parts of the workforce or for some business as usual functions
  • support a more diverse and distributed public service workforce
  • have greater regional presence, or be co-located in regions with other organisations
  • reduce their carbon footprint
  • consider what a virtual workplace means for their property footprint and physical workplaces.

A wider view of remote working

Outside the digital requirements for remote working, it’s important to consider the unique needs and working requirements of the people in your organisation. Workers’ environments, ability to adapt, and health and safety needs can affect how they work remotely.

It can be useful to plan remote working strategies in a multi-disciplinary team, for example including human resources and health and safety perspectives, to incorporate insights from across different parts of your organisation.

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