With millions still continuing to temporarily work from home, businesses must prepare for the rise in requests for homeworking arrangements to become permanent. If a continuation of homeworking is something you are looking at for your business, there are a few things you need to consider.
There have been many benefits of homeworking, for both the employer and employees, during the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study conducted by UKRI found that 9 in 10 employees felt that they completed more work whilst working from home, compared to when working at the office.
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has also reported that employees based at home took less than half the amount of sick leave (two days compared with four for other employees), reflecting the reduced risk of passing on illnesses.
Some employers have seen the advantages of homeworking and many have reported outstanding successes. With organisations finding new and innovative ways of working, most employees have responded by feeling more engaged and connected than ever.
Remote Working Factors
If you are planning to switch to a permanent remote working model, it is essential to plan for the future and ensure that you have taken all necessary steps to comply with health, safety and employment law regulations. Below, we outline the crucial factors that your business will need to consider when adapting to this new way of working:
Lone Working Risks
Employees who work alone are at greater risk due to the lack of help and support available should an accident occur. As an employer, you are responsible for providing them with the right support, such as lone working training to understand the risks, maintaining regular contact to ensure employees feel connected and also being able to recognise potential signs of poor mental health, including stress. To find out more, click here.
Display Screen Equipment (DSE)
You must ensure that safe and healthy working practices are in place to avoid employee health-related problems caused by display screen equipment. Firstly, a DSE risk assessment must be carried out to assess employees’ home environment and setup to ensure ergonomic working and good posture can be achieved, which can reduce the risk of homeworkers developing work-related upper limb disorders (WRULDs).
The DSE risk assessment should identify if changes need to be made to employees’ equipment, furniture or overall working conditions. Employees should be provided with information, instruction and training around the use of DSE, ergonomic working and good posture.
Employers must ensure that equipment provided for work purposes is safe for use and any electrical equipment should be inspected, tested and maintained to ensure it remains in a safe condition. You should consider how procedures for inspection and testing of electrical equipment, such as PAT testing, will be fulfilled with homeworkers.
It’s important that you understand what your business insurance covers you for when it comes to employees working from home. Whereas many business insurance policies offer cover on all computer equipment taken away from the premises as standard, we advise you not to assume you have this and check with your insurance provider. If your employees are using their own personal equipment for work that is clerical only (i.e. using a PC or phone), many home insurance policies will cover it.
However, if they are using their own equipment for work that is more specialist in nature and is used for non-clerical activities, it’s worth encouraging them to check that they have the right cover in place with their home insurance provider.
Mental Health and Wellbeing
As an employer, you hold a duty of care to ensure the wellbeing of your employees. Struggling to find a healthy work life balance can put a huge strain on your employees’ mental health. To learn more, read our tips for maintaining employee wellbeing whilst working from home.
Changes to Employment Contracts
Making changes to employee contracts depends predominantly on two matters. Firstly, it depends on who is requesting for an employee to work from home. Is it the employer or the employee (via a Flexible Working Request)? Secondly, it depends whether there is a written Contract of Employment in place. If one is in place, then what terms and conditions are contained within that contract?
Either way, there needs to be a written document in place (e.g. new contract or an addendum to an existing contract), detailing what the arrangements are for the employee working from home, including (but not limited to) matters such as effective date of the change, hours of work, remuneration, whether the employer can request that the employee work from the office due to business/operational needs and who has the liability of internet/telephone costs. It would also be prudent to have a Homeworking Policy in place.
For many businesses, working from home during the pandemic has been an effective short-term solution. However, if you are considering taking the route of making homeworking a permanent way of working, it’s important to carefully consider what is involved and the implications associated with homeworking.
How Can We Help?
Our homeworking packages can help support and guide you through the challenges associated with homeworking. From DSE training to homeworking policies, our team are on hand to help you. Please see the packages available and what they include below.
If you have any questions or would like further information, please contact a member of our team on 02920 853794 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.