How to Proactively Support Staff Working from Home

Depending on which statistics you read, around 88% of the global workforce suddenly went remote in 2020. This was the largest ever social experiment around the nature of work and work practices. Interestingly, for over half of these people, working from home was a brand new experience. Most people thought it would be for a couple of weeks. Nine months later, it’s clear that the working environment will never be the same again. Companies are now developing formal remote working policies, delving into how to proactively support staff working from home, and devising new flexibility and hybrid working structures to become a part of the future of work for their organisations.

After the initial reactive measures to the crisis, and getting people working functionally from home, many companies are now looking to enter the next phase: planning and prevention. While the right technology and security is critical to working from home, so too is ergonomic training and making sure that staff are set up properly at their home work station in order to avoid injury or discomfort.

According to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and General Application Regulations of 2007,  employers in Ireland have a direct liability for the safety of their staff, regardless of where the work. This combined with the tendency for people to work longer hours from home, means employers need to proactively engage with their staff to make sure they are safe

There are a number of ways to achieve this. At Capella, we have developed a remote on-line ergonomic training platform that also allows employees to engage with us on certain key data about their work station, and to upload photographs which are then formally analysed by an ergonomic assessor. Identifying high risk situations and advising on how to address the issues is a key part of any assessment. After the initial assessment, we offer remote consultations to any employees who have been flagged as having a significant issue.

Again, under the law, it’s not acceptable to get employees to just fill out a questionnaire and assess themselves. That is considered a delegation of risk to the employee, and does not address employer liability. Employers must actively inform themselves of, and carry out a risk-assessment on their staff’s home work environment, from the desk and chair to the safety of their electrical equipment, the standard of their lighting and ventilation etc. There is a long list of elements that should be analysed to ensure the safety of staff while they work from home. This can be easily carried out during an on-line consultation.

And when it comes to supplying furniture or equipment for staff working at home, different companies have different policies. If a business does offer an allowance for equipment to address some of the issues, it’s important to make sure that staff are buying ergonomically approved furniture. Blowing the budget on a high end gaming or office chair won’t necessarily give them the ergonomic support they need. A reputable supplier will guide businesses through this process, and most good assessment companies will have a list of pre-approved furniture. Probably the most important piece of advice is to seek expert support as you embark on making sure your staff are set up safely at home. You may think you don’t have the budget, but ignoring the issue can lead to far more costly consequences.Report this