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What do I need to do for Flexible Working at Home?

Mar 19, 2020 | News


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What do I need to do for Flexible Working at Home?

With the current landscape in uncertainly over the spread of Coronavirus, businesses are being encouraged and advised to allow their employees to work from home, rather than their main place of work. Some companies may already be set up for this, others not so much.

There no absolute law about ‘flexible working’ but the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires employers to assess risks to employees and have in place arrangements to control an manage these risks to an adequate level. Flexible working falls into the category of a potential risk that needs managing.

We’ll discuss and give advice on the health and safety elements of flexible working in the post below but there are other considerations to be aware of too –
1. Do you need to discuss with your HR team or advisors with regards to working hours, contractual arrangements etc? if unsure just as them
2. Productivity of workers at home – if someone has never worked form home, they may find it hard to settle into a groove of working effectively or efficiently
3. Connectivity – do you have the right IT and computing infrastructure in place such as laptops, online chat functionality, cloud-based file storage and ability to access emailed from the internet.
4. Security – if you are allowing remote working and connection to your company emails, file storage etc do you have the correct online security in-place to safeguard against hacking or accidental breaches confidentiality or data loses/leaks
5. Isolation – some people will feel very isolated not being part of a physical team, keep in contact and check in with these workers, especially if this is there first time working from home.

As a point of completeness, flexible working is different to permanent homeworking; for people employed to work permanently from home their contracts are typically different and the approach you take to assess their health and safety is a little more involved. This post is focused on flexible working only, although there are some similarities.

What Health and Safety is needed for Flexible working?

We’ll assume that most employees that can work flexibly will probably require a laptop or PC to fulfil their role and an area to work from in their home.

What Equipment do They Need?

The chances are they will need to be provided with a laptop or already have one. Working on a laptop compromises posture wherever they are use. Times uses and location used determine how quickly the compromise turns into aches and pains.
If you are providing laptops think about providing guidance on safe workstation set up – desk, chairs, screen height etc. Ultimately for regular work from a laptop a user should be using an external keyboard, mouse and screen or laptop stand.
They will also ideally need a desk or surface to work from that allows a good posture to be maintained as well as a seat designed for computer work and/or a standing desk arrangement.
We are real fan of standing desks at Safewell, as long as the setup is right, and users understand good posture when standing, and how to recognise fatigue leading to bad habits.
Other considerations for home working might include:
• Guidance on electrical safety for equipment they use, you can’t insist they change their personal electrical standards but some well-placed advice might help them, but you can require company property to be PAT tested.
• Setting up suitable lighting in their working area
• Taking regular breaks
• Stretching and mobilising after desk work
• Encouraging light exercise for mood and posture quality

Training, Procedures and Assessment

Document your flexible working procedure or system of working and ensure employees are trained on and aware of it. Make it user friendly so it acts as a resource of useful information for the end user, as well as stating the company’s responsibility. A good tool in the procedure for flexible working is a self-assessment that the flexible workers complete – it should both help assessment their flexible working arrangements and guide them to the priority areas to improve.

Safewell can help create this procedure and assessment.

It’s a good idea to provide training to staff on setting up their environment for working at home.

Safewell can provide this training face to face in groups or online.

This is an interesting one…if someone is not used to working from home they could very quickly become or feel isolated. They may also not be as productive as they would in the office. The isolation may lead to mental health issues particularly with the un-settling changes associated with coronavirus currently in the UK.
Keeping in contact with flexible workers will be critical and making use of online technology and phone will be critical to their wellbeing. For online consider a shared platform like Microsoft teams, WhatsApp, Skype or similar where screen sharing, instant messaging and video calling are all possibilities.
Done in the right way flexible working can be beneficial to the employee and the company – and in the current situation beneficial to the country too. But done in the wrong way and you may contribute to the employee’s mental health load, an un-productive business or many more aches and pains an employee never knew about!

If this is you asking – ‘What do I need to do for Flexible Working at Home?’ call or message Safewell Now and we can help you quickly and efficiently.

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