When managing remote workers, it’s important to recognise the mental and physical strains home working can have on people and the learnings taken from the pandemic. With the extra time in bed, added flexibility and home comforts, it’s a common misconception that remote working is a breeze — the reality can be far from it.
From arranging WFH DSE assessments to conducting wellbeing check-ins, employers have a responsibility to ensure their staff’s health, safety and comfort when they’re working from home. And while there are challenges to this, there are also solutions. Whether you manage a small group of employees or a large team, here are our top tips to help you feel confident in their safety and wellbeing.
Working from home — whether fully remote or as part of a hybrid structure — certainly has its perks. From cutting out the need for public transport and lengthy commutes to saving money on lunch, it can benefit a lot of people.
However, challenges can also arise.
If you’re working at home alone, it’s all too easy for hours or even days to pass by without any face-to-face interaction. At times, there may not be much communication over phone or email either. This might work great for some at first, but it’s likely it’ll eventually take its toll on extroverts and introverts alike. Social connections foster creativity, motivation and a sense of togetherness as you’re united in shared goals. In turn, a lack of them can take a real knock on mental health.
Whether it’s a postal delivery, the television, or kids screaming down the house, homes are filled with distractions. And no two remote working situations are the same. The effects can range from frustration with the lack of ability to focus to losing motivation with the tasks at hand — neither of which are healthy over sustained periods of time.
They say a poor worker blames their tools. But truly, if your team members don’t have the right tools, you can only expect a slump in productivity and job satisfaction. This could be display screen equipment that they previously had in the office or resources they now need to successfully work from home.
It’s one thing having a workstation set-up that restricts productivity and another to work at one that is plain unsafe. Excessive strain on the eyes, hands, neck, back and shoulders poses a real health risk, and there are many desk injuries that can arise. Short-term discomfort is often overlooked, but it can lead to long-term issues.
It’s essential to remember that, as an employer, you have a duty of care to make sure any DSE workers have the correct set-up — whether they’re in the office, hot desking, or working from home.
So, what actions can you take to keep your remote team happy?
The absence of the water cooler is no excuse not to stay in close contact with your remote colleagues. Nowadays, there are plenty of online channels to help you keep in touch, so find one or two that everyone feels happy and comfortable with.
From there, you can easily communicate everything from schedules, guidelines and availability to general chit-chat, all of which are incredibly important for keeping morale high and work on track.
As well as having that stream of communication, the best managers schedule routine one-to-ones to speak more directly. During these, you can set expectations, catch up on progress towards deadlines, share resources, and exchange feedback both ways.
Video calls tend to be more effective for remote leadership, as they get as close as possible to replicating face-to-face interaction. It’s also helpful to keep these meetings short, sweet, and regular.
Switching to remote working, your team may need better laptops, faster WiFi, accessories like headsets and webcams or other role-dependent resources. Don’t underestimate the value of these tools in the remote workspace. While they may not seem essential at first they’ll go a long way in improving efficiency and diffusing any frustrations.
It’s your responsibility to make sure your home-workers desk and screen arrangements are DSE compliant. This essentially confirms that they comply with all current government guidance and regulations on workplace health and safety, giving both you and your colleagues complete peace of mind.
A DSE assessment evaluates your employees’ current workstation looking for any risks, like electrical ones for example, then provides guidance on any adjustments or additional resources that’ll be needed to work safely. There are various different types of DSE assessments available, so find one that best suits your organisation.
While a lot of what you need to provide your workers with may be physical resources, general guidance can make a significant difference too. For example, you can point them in the direction of this neck stretching guide to relieve tension and ease any discomfort in their neck, from sitting at their desk all day. We also have another specifically targeted at alleviating back pain.
As the UK’s #1 DSE assessment provider, we offer assessments specifically designed for home-workers — available virtually, online or in-person. Join 100s of the UK’s happiest companies and arrange a DSE assessment for your employees today.