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Working From Home Guidelines for Employers

If you have staff who are going to work from home, you need to address some considerations and probably make some adjustments too.  To help you prepare, read our working from home advice for employers below. 

Covid-19:  Because current circumstances are unusual and unpredictable, working from home arrangements during the coronavirus should not set the precedent for all future working arrangements.

We understand the interest in working from home has been accelerated by the coronavirus and we haven’t all had the luxury of time to plan.  To help you manage your situation, we have prepared a guide outlining the key points you should consider.  Follow these points to help make working from home work for you.

Working from home essentials

Will the job role change if working from home?

Employers and employees should be practical, flexible and sensitive to each other’s situation when working from home; things might need to be done differently so keep an open mind. It is possible that some duties will not be able to be carried out at home in which case you should question whether working from home in the long term is actually feasible.

Agreeing working times and breaks help to establish a routine. If working hours are not defined, boundaries between home life and work life can easily become blurred and lead to increased stress.

If the working from home arrangement is going to be temporary, and if possible, agree how long the period of working from home will last.

Keep a written record of the arrangements so everyone understands and is in agreement.

Consider how you can measure output and performance with a remote workforce. Be prepared to lower your expectations if home working conditions are less than adequate.

What support needs to be provided for home workers?

Homeworking can be challenging so ensure you support your colleagues while they are adjusting.

Consider the needs of each employee separately: for instance some will have childcare issues, some people who are used to a team environment may struggle with limited social contact work, other people have lack of a suitable workspace.

If you can, provide a phone specifically for work use. Being able to switch the phone off at the end of a working day is an important part of maintaining a good work/life balance.

Read more about looking after mental health when home working where you can find help for workers and for managers.

What’s the best way to communicate with home workers?

It is important that homeworkers have one or two key contacts within the organisation for maintaining regular communication. Make sure contact information, including emergency contacts, is up to date and available.

Create a clear plan for your communications. How often will you contact workers?  Keep in regular contact with your workforce and check on their well-being. Talk to them about any problems they have working from home and try to find ways to improve arrangements.

Collaborative work has manifold advantages including greater efficiency, creativity and productivity, and fostering a sense of team work.  When your employees are spread out across different geographical locations, consider using software specifically designed for collaborative work such as Microsoft Teams.

Security

Are communications between employees and other people secure?  For instance, confidential phone calls should be encrypted. Applications like WhatsApp and Instant Messenger may not offer you the level of security suitable for your business. Make sure homeworkers are aware of how to safeguard confidentiality and comply with GDPR.

Ensure staff run virus checks on attachments received by email before opening them.

Am I responsible for providing equipment?

Providing and maintaining work equipment can help to ensure that homeworkers work safely as well as efficiently.

Establish what equipment is needed to enable employees to work efficiently at home.

If you supply equipment for use at an employee’s home, is it covered by your insurance?

It’s a good idea to ask employees for a signature confirming they have received the equipment supplied by you and acknowledging they have an obligation to look after it.

Reporting accidents and incidents

Any incidents affecting homeworkers need to be communicated to, and recorded by employers. This includes accidents and any ‘near miss’ occurrences.

What are the Health and Safety issues I need to be aware of?

Risk at home can differ from those in the workplace. Taking time to ensure safe working practices helps avoid the potential costs of interruptions to work output from ill-health or injury.

As the person responsible for managing risk, you should be aware of any hazards posed to home workers by:

  • The working environment of homeworking area
  • Electrical safety
  • Emergency arrangements: Fire, First aid
  • Stress
  • DSE (required for anyone using a workstation regularly for their work i.e. for more than an hour a day)
  • Manual handling
  • Slips and trips hazards
  • Lone working

Risk assessment

Employers have a duty of care to ensure the health and safety and wellbeing employees including when they are working from home. There is a grey area when the home becomes the work environment so establish clearly the area of the property for which risks will be assessed.

It is good practice to conduct risk assessments that are specific to each homeworker’s work environment, and to involve the homeworker in the process of identifying potential hazards. Businesses that have carried out risk assessments for individual homeworkers have addressed a range of significant hazards in the home working area (e.g. electrical; manual handling; chemicals; ventilation; lone working/isolation), and include potential hazards that would not normally be found in a workplace such as pets.

Regular reviews of risk assessments should be carried out to ensure that there have been no significant changes.

You can start the process by using our free home worker risk assessment checklist (see below).  To continue the process,  book one of our home worker risk assessments carried out by our trained and experienced risk assessors.

Read more about our risk assessments for home workers here or call us on 0370 118 8000 to book your assessment.

Free home working risk assessment checklist

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Free home working risk assessment checklist

Call 0370 118 8000 for more information