Defining remote working
Remote working is a working style that allows employees to work at a distance outside the traditional office premises. People have the flexibility to work at home or anywhere in the world.
The trend of remote working has grown since the development of IT. Like, laptops, smartphones and handheld devices.
Remote working benefits both the employee and the employer by cutting down on costs and time, allowing flexible working and improving work efficiency. But it also comes with it’s own health and safety hazards, from working in isolation to a lack of control over the work environment.
Employers Duty of Care
Employers have a legal duty of chair for their staff and need to provide a working environment that is safe and without risk to their employees’ health, as far as is reasonably possible. This duty of care extends to locations other that the company’s premises, including the employees’ home when remote working. An employer must carry out a health and safety risk assessment to determine if their employees work can be carried out safely and risk free from home.
For companies to fulfil this obligation they must carry out a risk assessment of their employee’s home environment when they begin working from home. You must also provide your employees with specialised equipment and any PPE needed to carry out their work safely, such as a proper, laptop, mouse, monitor and keyboard to prevent work-related injuries.
The main risk factors which need to be considered when staff are working from home include:
- work environment
- work equipment
- staff wellbeing
To get started it is a good idea to put a company checklist together for your team that is dealing with remote workers. Answering questions such as:
- How many employees do you have working remotely?
- Will all of them stay remote, if not how many will return to the office?
- Are remote workers working from home, coworking spaces or another geographical location?
This will help you manage your remote workers and put together questionnaires that can help your health and safety teams assess any risk factors for both the company and the employees.
You need to be able to factor in risks such as working alone, working using laptops and equipment, the work environment, fire etc. You need to be able to train employees how to carry out their own assessments or have a company carry our remote virtual assessments for you with a point of contact they can have if any questions arise. Interactive software or remote virtual assessments are a great way to lead inexperienced employees through a risk assessment process.
For more detailed information see: Covid-19 advice for employers and employees
Mental Health and Wellbeing
Workers working from home are at greater risk of experiencing loneliness, feeling socially and professionally isolated and more stressed compared to workers in an office setting.
Employers should check-in frequently, monitor workloads and keep an eye out for signs of underlying stress. Some employers put in place virtual social events such as online fitness sessions, relaxation webinars and virtual coffee breaks. These team-building types of events can promote regular contact and interaction between colleagues, a sense of belonging, reduce stress and heighten productivity while remote working.
However, they can feel manufactured or “force fun” for some people. While all workers should be invited to take part, as an employer you should not make participation mandatory or “strongly encouraged”, especially if the activity is happening during employees breaks or outside work hours.
3 Tips to help your new remote employees working from home
1- Help them deal with isolation
Many workers are used to socialising whether it’s in the morning on their commute to work, a coffee break, lunch time, evening having a chat during the workday or catching up after work. Unfortunately with COVID-19, we are all forced to work from the safety of our homes. Whether you are living in a shared space, studio apartment, or in the countryside, it can prove difficult to work just in one space every day of the week even if you are around family or friends.
To deal with this encourage your employees to put a daily routine in place, take lunchtime walks. There are many cardiovascular benefits to this, and it gets them out of their home. If there’s a call they only need to listen in to, or you need to talk about something that does not involve screen sharing, encourage them to take a safe walk outside while taking the call (practising safe distancing of course).
2- Make sure they have the right work environment set up
If you are a remote worker you will have a great set up, desk, some monitor an ergonomic chair and everything else you need. Meanwhile, if you are a more recent remote worker due to government-mandated quarantine you may have little or none of that.
Even if your company doesn’t have a budget to supply all of this equipment there are some ways you can help your employees get comfortable at home.
– Make your seat more comfortable using a seat wedge
– Adjust your screen height with a laptop stand
– Help eye strain by increasing the light in your room with a lamp
Encourage your employees to make sure that they are comfortable when working from home. Provide them with stretches they can do and make sure they are taking breaks away from their screens.
3- Increase 1 on 1 meetings and frequency
A lot of newly remote workers are experiencing stress and anxiety as they are overwhelmed with working from home. Before all of this happened your team didn’t have to worry about
> How they would get their work done working from home
> The stress of reading about job losses
> Concerns about isolation and loneliness on the job
> Figuring out how to hit numbers in a newly changed market
Spending time with team members and making sure they have access to all the information and tools they need will pay massive diffidence it will relive pressure and stress and reassure them they are doing a good job. Providing your team with this type of pressure valve is needed now more than ever. Your one to ones provides them to as any questions they have and keep them up to date with any changes in the company.
Download your Free Copy of the ultimate guide to homeworking and feel free to share it with your employees.
– How to set up your workspace
– Stretches and nutrition advice
– Looking after your mental health and much more.