Best practice for homeworking health and wellbeing
Since March 2020, many of us have been working remotely from home to combat the spread of coronavirus. For most, homeworking has been a success – employee productivity levels have not fallen. The rise of Zoom and Teams has enabled us to communicate and connect effectively and the eradication of the daily commute has allowed many to redress the work-life balance.
Changing Working Patterns
With further relaxations fast approaching, it’s unclear if we’ll see a migration back into the office. Some employees may remain working from home, whilst for others the new normal will be a hybrid or flexible working pattern.
Health and Well-being
Having experienced so many positives over the past 14 months why shouldn’t we just ‘Keep Calm and Carry on’? Because for every positive there seems to be a negative. Lone working and isolation might not be for everyone and raises questions surrounding employee well-being and mental health issues. Many homes, flats and apartments are not designed to cater for homeworking let alone a separate home office. And then throw into the mix sharing with another home worker, or two or maybe three, and perhaps home-schooling children as well. Space is the real concern, and if not space a designated workspace that is set-up ergonomically.
Employer’s Duty of Care
Many have been creative with their space. We have seen ironing boards used as sit-stand workstations, boxes and biscuit tins used as laptop and monitor stands, cushions, and pillows for back supports. Employers need to be made aware that relying on their employees to be creative is not acceptable. Their duty of care for their employees’ health and well-being extends to homeworking.
But what effect has it really had on our bodies?
If left unaddressed those musculoskeletal pains will soon erode the positive employee productivity stats that we have witnessed.
It’s therefore paramount that employees are assessed in their home environment to eliminate risks in the same way that they are in the office. We’re not saying that everyone should have an ergonomic office chair and desk in their home, although wouldn’t that be nice, but we do recommend that employers ensure their employees are safe and free from risk.
Our five-point guide for supporting homeworking practices are: -
- Assess for risks
- Resolve any issues
- Train employees
- Communicate regularly
- Encourage breaks
Visit the Bureaunomics web site to self-assess your working environment
Author: Mark Walker, Bureaunomics Managing Director