Jill Farmer from Portsmouth’s Workwise Ergonomics – who work with employees to create ‘healthy, happy, and productive work environments’ – shares advice for employers on how to support staff who are now home-working, and a great video on making working from home as comfortable as possible.
These are unprecedented times, and many clients are asking what to do with regards to home-working and DSE (Display Screen Equipment) over the next few weeks, so we thought we’d put together a simple checklist and ‘How To’ guide for you so that you can cross this off your worry list for now.
Nothing here is a hard and fast ‘rule’ – you know your organisation better than anyone else – but just some pragmatic guidance to help you sensibly navigate the coming weeks.
What To Do – Weeks 1-2
- Don’t panic! Most people will be fine for a short while, so don’t get too concerned about them working from home in the short term
- Prioritise people with existing difficulties such as aches, pains, eyesight problems, disabilities etc – the people you already know struggle at times, even with the best of setups
- Tell your staff that you’re working on keeping everyone safe, comfortable and productive over the next few weeks, and that you’re purposely prioritising those that you know have some difficulties
- Send out a link to our ‘How To’ guide and video (see below) so that they can set themselves up at home
- Make it clear that they must tell you if they’re struggling so that they can be added to the priority pile – health & safety is a 2 way responsibility between employer and employee, so they have responsibilities here too
- Carry out a risk assessment over the phone for those that are still struggling – Workwise Ergonomics is happy to help with this obviously! (Please see the note below about pricing).
- Stress the importance of movement and breaks – it really is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING
What To Do – Week 3 Onwards
- Start to look at formalising some of your policies and procedures – so far we’ve been in Emergency Planning mode, but let’s face it – even if full lockdown is lifted, the advice to stay at home as much as possible is going to linger on for quite sometime
- Think about putting in place formal home-working risk assessments covering all aspects of their setup and environment – we have forms you can use for this – just shout if you need them
- Keep people well informed so that they can carry out their own risk assessments – send out our ‘How To’ guide and video so that they’re trained enough to carry out those risk assessments themselves. More videos coming soon, but if you need something specific putting together then again – please just contact us!
- Review these risk assessments. Do remote/telephone/Skype type assessments where appropriate, and put in place whatever measures you can to keep people comfy. We suggest this is done on a case by case basis, rather than assume that everyone will need the same adjustments at the same time.
- Remember that most people will be fine working from home for now, so don’t panic – everyone is in the same boat, and most employees understand that you’re doing your best for them.
- Have a think about whether this could be an opportunity to change the way that you work in the future
- We would always advise against a ‘1 size/solution fits all’ policy, so maybe it won’t be right for all of your staff long term, but it might work for some
- Maybe a mix of office and remote working would be the best solution going forwards
- Or maybe even the use of ‘3rd spaces’ such as co-working so that you can rationalise your central office location, cut the commutes, and keep everybody living and working locally
- Some element of remote working is the way the world is going. Admittedly we’ve gone a bit too far and a bit too quickly…but maybe out of this current madness comes a rethink and new ways of living. Here’s hoping some good comes out of it, eh?
A note from Jill:
These are all the things that we can help with right now but we know that some of you are struggling to survive in the current madness and we genuinely don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable.
So the deal is – please pay what you can afford.
If you need help and can’t afford it right now, then do still call us and we’ll work something out. We believe in Karma – what goes around comes around.
But if you’re doing OK and can afford it then we’d really appreciate your business as things have changed quite significantly for us in the last few weeks too!
Head over for more advice and information about working with the team, and don’t forget to follow them on Twitter and Facebook. If you would like to talk to the team about your business:
Give them a call on 0845 230 8180
Email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Or use the contact form on their website.
This article was originally published on the Workwise Ergonomics website.