As remote working becomes the new normal and organisations adjust how they work, it is essential that employers are aware of their responsibilities and understand the benefits of keeping their colleagues safe and healthy.
As wellbeing assessors for remote workers, we have seen numerous home working set ups and spoken to many home workers. These are the 10 things we have taken away from these visits.
1. A fully adjustable chair
You should ensure all your remote workers are sitting on an fully ergonomic adjustable chair. If they do not want one you should insist on it. A good chair will ensure they are healthy and will prevent future musculoskeletal problems.
They are spending one third of their day in this chair – it is as important as a good bed! A good chair is so important and will ensure your people are comfortable, healthy and more productive!
2. Workstation risk assessment
Your remote workers should all get a DSE risk assessment. The display screen equipment’ risk assessment covers all the physical risks that come from sitting at a workstation.
A good risk assessment that puts control measures in place to ensure your workers do not suffer any musculoskeletal disorders.
This should be done annually and ideally in person and objectively observed.
3. A dedicated work space
Working on the couch or kitchen table is not a long term solution. All remote workers should be encouraged to create a dedicated area that is set aside for work. This does not need to be a separate room – a section of a room is sufficient. This small separation goes a long way!
4. PAT test all equipment
If your remote workers are using electrical equipment to do their work, it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure this is safe – an annual PAT test is the best way to do this. This includes laptops, printers and chargers.
5. Mental health awareness and having a mental health policy
Do your remote workers know you have a policy and how to access it?
Ensure your mental health policy has been amended to reflect remote working and the mental health pressure this can create. If you don’t have a mental health policy then now is a great time to get one written! The fact that you don’t see remote workers everyday will make it very difficult to recognise mental health issues that may arise.
6. Flexible hours
Allow your remote workers to make their own hours – as long as it is within the needs of the business this is always a good thing. Almost every home worker we have spoken to say they feel more productive when they can work their hours at flexible times.
It is too easy to get stuck into work and not take the appropriate breaks – especially when you can’t see co workers taking theirs. Encourage your remote teams to break often and take a full lunch break. They should get up for 5 minutes once an hour and take at least 30 minutes for lunch away from their workstation.
8. Communication tools
Give your teams the right tools to encourage smooth and effective communication. Encourage
9. Work-Life Balance
Ensure your remote workers are able to have a healthy work-life balance. Create a culture where work time and personal time don’t overlap and communication outside of work time is limited. Also, understand that the idea of a healthy work life balance will be different for everyone and flexibility is key.
10. Ask how they are doing !
This is the easiest and most effective ! Simply ask them how they are – apart from work,
apart from anything else. You should speak to those who report to you and ask sincere
and honest questions about how they are doing. This will go a long way!