As many staff now find themselves working from home, and begin to adjust and acclimatise to the technology enabling them to do so, it is likely that the day to day reality of working activities can and will be very challenging.
Whenever you work from home, whether it’s from a dedicated office space or from a desk in the lounge, you’re likely to be classified as a lone worker, and working safely from home is imperative. Typically, you will be carrying out your work activities in isolation from other people and without direct supervision.
In light of recent events, many businesses have been forced to adapt, and a new way of working has materialised. Benefits to employers are obvious; finances improve as overheads like office space and other facilities are offset as employers provide their own workspace. Workers often report increased motivation from the flexibility that remote working offers, increasing productivity and staff retention.
Despite working remotely, employers still have a duty of care to uphold; therefore normal office health and safety requirements equally apply to employees working from home. Although most home workers will be completing low-risk, desk-based jobs, appropriate risks assessments still need to be conducted. This needs to be done at the start of the home working arrangement and periodically thereafter, to ensure safe practices are being followed.
Health & Safety requirements working from home
If a business has more than five employees, they have a legal requirement to assess potential risks to their employees work environment before employment begins and record any significant findings. They must:
- Conduct risk assessments at the start of the employment or contract and when there has been a significant change to the home and review at least annually where there is no change.
- Provide adequate information, Instruction, training and supervision on health and safety matters.
- Involve homeworkers when considering potential risks and discuss how best to control them.
- Take appropriate steps to remove risks around the home wherever possible.
If possible try and create a specific workplace so you feel productive and professional. The top of your screen should always be level with your eyes and a supportive chair with lumbar support which sits comfortably into your back will stand you in good stead for long term remote working.
Regarding the workstation itself, there needs to be enough space to stretch your legs and an adequate amount of surface space. It is your responsibility to keep the working area free of clutter to reduce any additional risks such as trips and falls. Protecting your eyes from the glare of the screen is just as important at home, remember to reduce the brightness and adjust text size, taking regular screen breaks and keep hydrated.
We are all guilty of spending too much time on social media but working from home means the distractions are far too accessible and before you know it a quick glance at Facebook and Instagram has turned into a whole lost morning of work. Set your social time for two 15 Min’s break, in the morning and afternoon and schedule your lunch hour for the time to eat and catch up with personal time.
Establish a routine
Make sure you start and finish your day as you would at work-set clear boundaries so you feel you have achieved a full days work and can relax in the evenings to create your work/life balance and start the next day refreshed. Taking small breaks every 30 minutes or so will maintain a structure and keep you motivated.
Combating the feeling of isolation
Loneliness is the biggest challenge remote workers are facing, and communication is key to prevent this. The number of remote workers has increased dramatically, but this physical separation of co-workers has led to more people feeling like they don’t have friends at work, and that they’re less loyal or connected to their company because of it.
Technology like Zoom or Skype can promote a feeling of belonging and still being actively involved with colleagues and seeing the expressions on their face when conversing about work, is of upmost importance. Even a simple group chat on WhatsApp or similar can alleviate isolation anxiety and keep staff motivated, with a sense of involvement.
The rise of home working can have a multitude of benefits for companies and employees alike. For more information on working safely from home and other health and safety support advice, please contact us here or call us on 0330 107 0165.