What can health and safety professionals do to meet the challenges presented by remote working?
That was the question we aimed to answer with our most recent webinar: ‘Remote Working Safety Challenges – How technology can assist you’. Read on for the webinar recording and our breakdown of the 5 key take aways from the session.
Watch the full webinar recording below:
- Welcome Message: 00:00 - 01:20
- Introduction to Panellists: 01:20 - 03:46
- Ensuring employees have the correct remote working set up 03:46 - 11:38
- What do businesses need to be doing now? 11:38 - 29:42
- Identifying hazards and areas of risk for at-home working 29:42 - 36:56
- Identifying mental health and wellbeing issues 36:56 - 41:26
- Conclusion 41:26 - 43:51
1. Working from home is no longer temporary
- In the beginning, it was assumed that remote working would be a temporary arrangement. It has been 12 months since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and working from home is looking more permanent for some.
- Working from home cannot simply be considered a job perk anymore.
- Managers need to assess the working conditions of their employees a year on. Are people in co-living situations? Are they trying to juggle home-schooling with working fulltime? Do they have a desk at home or do they have to set up their workspace everyday?
- Some businesses are now contemplating a flexible approach to working for the future, with a mix of home and office based options. Businesses must consider the impact that this will have on their employees, not just from a cost-saving perspective.
2. Communication remains as important as ever
- Its vital to have regular check ins with employees.
- Communication should be 2-way, not just talking at staff.
- If staff are required to complete risk assessments or DSE assessments, then instructions on how to do so should be clearly signposted.
- It is a good idea to hold regular company updates with employees. These don’t have to just be for significant announcements. The future is a significant worry for many employees and consistent communication with their employer can go a long way to allaying these fears.
- If you are planning on implementing wellbeing plans or other initiatives, consult with employees and follow through with them.
3. Safety processes for home working must be formalised
- Conversations relating to employees living spaces can be difficult for managers to have.
- Businesses should look to have completed DSE and Risk Assessments for their staff who are working from home, as well as wellness action plans.
- While there doesn’t currently appear to be concrete evidence of claims, it is something that companies are expecting in the future.
- According to the panel, H&S professional need to make sure that they:
- Protect the employees
- Protect the organisation
- To achieve this, risk assessments, DSE assessments, training records must be thoroughly documented and resources clearly signposted for employees
65% of respondants said they were not using software to manage remote working
(Engage EHS survey)
4. Pay special care to employee mental health and wellbeing
- The distinction between work life and home life has become blurred for a lot of people.
- Peoples sleeping patterns may be disrupted and without a daily commute, movement throughout the day may be drastically reduced.
- While Managers cannot be expected to be mental health experts, they still must be able to prove duty of care to their employees.
- Anonymous surveys are a great way to engage with employees around potentially sensitive topics such as mental health, wellbeing and emotional state.
- Managers should check in with employees as much as possible, and encourage them to take breaks and have downtime.
- If your business is moving towards a flexible style of working after the pandemic, consider the impact of this on employees. While it can mean no commute, it may also mean the removal of a vital social outlet.
5. Its vital to properly prepare for a return to the office/ worksite
- Staff may require training around new hygiene protocols and risk assessments may need to be updated
- Managers should understand that there may be a high level of anxiety around returning to work, not just from a COVID-19 perspective. Many people have had greatly reduced social contact over the past year and any return to work programmes should address these issues.
- Work closely with high-risk individuals to facilitate a return to work that is as safe as possible.