The perception of homeworking has changed for the better. The pandemic has resulted in many businesses looking at a hybrid model of working, where staff split their time between coming into the office and working remotely. The reality is that homeworking is here to stay and businesses need to seamlessly integrate it into their everyday operations, as well as accommodate those looking to come into the workplace.
While this may make it more challenging for businesses to run smoothly, it can be achieved; virtual meetings, instant messaging and employee social platforms allow for successful contact and collaboration among staff, without the need for face-to-face interactions.
All employers need to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure employees can work safely, and these legal obligations extend to wherever your employees work. So, even 17 months after remote working exploded due to COVID-19, employers must ask themselves, are we doing enough when it comes to ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees when they are working from home?
Homeworkers' health and safety
The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) survey found that 85% of those working from home wanted to use a hybrid approach to incorporate home and office working in the future. Therefore, it is vital that employees receive the correct health and safety training. In relation to homeworking, they should be given clear instructions on the hazards and risks they may come across when working remotely and how to mitigate them, as well as learning what to do in an emergency situation.
Important health and safety considerations for homeworkers include:
- DSE use
- Slips, trips and falls
- Manual handling
- Fire Safety
- Use of electrical equipment
- Safety and emergency procedures
- Stress and wellbeing
Homeworking in practice
While many job roles have successfully transitioned to a remote working environment, such as customer services or even recruitment, it isn’t viable for everyone. However, the pandemic has changed the way businesses view homeworking and it has become clear there is a place for it. It can have a positive impact on productivity, inclusion and diversity, talent acquisition, employee wellbeing and business success.
“Our staff have exceeded expectations while working from home”, says Alex Wilkins, Head of Business Development at iHASCO. “You could say we had a head start as we have always offered homeworking opportunities but not on this scale. Providing staff with our own eLearning titles and becoming more creative with keeping our company culture alive has enabled us to thrive. Of course, we are looking forward to returning to the workplace at some point in the near future but we are in a fortunate position that for us, homeworking is a viable option and can be for even longer for those that want to switch to a hybrid model of working and gain the best of both worlds.”
While burnout has been an issue for many during the pandemic, companies wishing to keep homeworking practices should build mental health awareness and wellbeing into their support mechanisms for homeworkers. Mindfulness, building resilience and managing stress are all key skills that homeworkers will greatly benefit from, and online training can be a good way to introduce these topics.
Homeworking has proved to be successful for many businesses, and if they can keep homeworkers safe, productive and motivated, the benefits will be far reaching, for employers and employees. As long as employers remember that out of sight, doesn't mean out of mind.