Needs must, and whilst working from home during the pandemic, many of us have had to be imaginative with our working arrangements…
But what happens if your new, albeit temporary workplace is not set up properly, or worse, there is an accident as a result of poor working practises at home?
As an employer ow do you ensure that your employees home working environment is set up properly? Do you keep proper records? Here are some suggestions and some things to think about as we embrace the new hybrid working from home and office arrangements post covid lockdown.
What are your health and Safety responsibilities as an employer?
Many people may have kitted out their home offices with appropriate chairs and desks, you may have provided these for your people. But it doesn’t mean their working space is set up properly. As the law stands at the current time (Health, Safety and Welfare regulations) do not generally apply to domestic locations. But you still have a duty of care if you allow your team to work from home even occasionally.
Display Screen Equipment Assessment (DSE)
Ask employees who regularly work from home to complete a Display Screen Equipment assessment, there are various free versions available on the web. Many companies already ask their staff to carry out these assessments for the office environment, ask anyone working from home to do the same and record the results on your HR Information system. For more info check out the HSE website.
It may be that your staff require a foot stool, or a stand for their screen, to ensure they minimise any work place injuries or strains, these items are readily available and can be delivered to home addresses without too much hassle. Again, remember to keep a note of any items issued, along with any laptops and phones issued. We store information about equipment issued on our clients Breathe accounts.
Be mindful of how long your employees are working at a screen, there may be a temptation to work longer hours if there is not a culture of hard stop and set working times. Beware of eyestrain and back ache from employees who sit and look at a screen for longer durations than they normally should or would in an office situation. Manage their day, make sure they know working arrangements and encourage them to stop for breaks and not to work endless additional hours.
These should be carried out as a matter of course – covering work being completed, hours spent working and the equipment being used, and relevant personal characteristics such as pregnant employees. It is also the employee’s responsibility to look after their own health and safety, ensuing they take regular breaks and lunch breaks. Explain how employees working from home should report incidents and health and safety issues.
Mental Health issues
Working remotely doesn’t suit the majority of people for long durations of time – nice when you can combine with flexibility from your employer, but not so great when enforced on you! Be inclusive, plan social events and check in regularly with each other. Having a virtual coffee is not as nice as sitting and having the social contact, but it is not a bad solution in these difficult times.
Teach your management team what they should look out for, to counter stress at work and how to manage remote teams. It is a different way of communicating. Look out for signs of stress, and overwork. Work and home life have become blurred, be mindful of what people are having to cope with, although children have returned to school, this brings new different challenge for working parents.
There may be a call from the insurers to make sure that employees who work from home more often from now on, are covered, by their home insurance or their employer’s insurance, check with your broker if you are unsure if you are covered. With our new hybrid reality for home and office-based working, new insurance arrangements may be required.
If in doubt please seek professional advice, we are here to help with anything Human Resources related, but we also have access to many Insurance and OH professionals should you need their expertise too.
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