Last year was, to put it mildly, eventful. But this year we hope you all have a great time and remain safe.
We stumbled through last year figuring out how best to work from home but most thought it would be a short-term solution.
Now that it appears that this will be an ongoing requirement (benefit!?) so we must all ensure for those who can work remotely, work safely wherever we are located.
We must ensure that we can manage a variety of job settings; those that always working from home, hybrid working, as well as those that can’t. Each situation needs to be managed correctly in terms of policy, HR & safety.
NEW YEAR, NEW YEARS’S RESOLUTION
We need to do this right, not almost.
Working from home isn’t easy for everyone or even right or possible for some.
Do your staff understand the significance of good posture and how it may affect their life in the future?
How do you monitor the well being of people while they are not at their traditional workplace?
How do you maintain team spirit and ensure staff remain motivated and productive?
Posture & display equipment
One of the most crucial aspects of working at a desk is posture. There are several ways to achieve good posture.
On the NHS website they discuss how sitting badly may be harmful to your long term posture? Everyone does it, but are you aware of the exercises to rectify them? https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/common-posture-mistakes-and-fixes/
DON’T FORGET “As an employer, you must protect your workers from the health risks of working with display screen equipment (DSE), such as PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones.” - https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/
It's also essential to remember that when sitting at a desk, it's easy to get caught up in work and forget to take a brief break to rest your eyes. Common signs of not taking breaks include fatigued eyes, discomfort, temporary short sightedness, and headaches.
The HSE created this instructive and well-explained video. Working from a sofa or bed is never suitable and working at a proper desk is the greatest method to maintain good posture.
This video also highlights things that can be easily overlooked; for example,
- Have you ever considered that your monitor's brightness is too low or too high?
- Is it at eye level?
- Is the height of your chair appropriate for your desk?
The HSE also recommends taking a 5- to 10-minute break every hour to reduce static postures.
You'll find the video from this blog on the page, along with additional guidelines like DSE (display screen equipment) risk assessments and managing the risks - https://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/dse/home-working.htm
Do you have a resource or a great tip to share with us? If you leave a comment on our blog, we will make sure to answer it and perhaps incorporate it into our blog.
What are the challenges?
If the importance of posture and display equipment is often overlooked what about wellbeing?
Do you know your employees are comfortable working from home?
What happens if there is an accident? It may be as simple as stumbling over a box of paperwork.
Supporting wellbeing is very important to everyone but especially individuals who work from home; for some transitioning from a very sociable office to working on your own and the sudden feeling of loneliness is a major shock.
Some people adjust quickly, but everyone’s home and work situations are different and need to be carefully considered.
Everymind made a excellent video on How To Manage Your Mental Health While Working From Home
Even though working from home at first might seem exciting, it also certainly comes with a lot of challenges and uncertainty. So we wanted to put this video together to highlight 5 key tips on how you can manage your mental health, while working from home during this period.
Understanding mental health is crucial, Poor Mental health may have an impact on daily life, relationships, and physical health.
After we saw some terrifying figures from Young Minds about the impact on young people through the pandemic MyTeamSafe wrote blog to help us all understand and improve our and other’s wellbeing - https://content.myteamsafe.com/blog-understanding-mental-health/
Some terrifying numbers?
According to young minds
A survey carried out with 2,438 young people aged 13-25, between 26th January and 12th February 2021 shows:
75% of respondents agreed that they have found the current lockdown harder to cope with than the previous ones including 44% who said it said it was much harder. (14% said it was easier, 11% said it was the same)
67% believed that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health. This includes young people who had been bereaved or undergone traumatic experiences during the pandemic, who were concerned about whether friendships would recover, or who were worried about the loss of education or their prospects of finding work. (19% neither agreed nor disagreed, 14% disagreed)
79% of respondents agreed that their mental health would start to improve when most restrictions were lifted, but some expressed caution about restrictions being lifted too quickly and the prospect of future lockdowns.
We also strongly recommend that you look at this excellent resource from the charity Mind.
Your experience of mental health will be personal to you and there are many different ways in which it may be affected during the pandemic. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus/coping-with-mental-health-problems-during-coronavirus
Statistics from Mind show that 80% of respondents agreed that the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse. 41% said it had made their mental health “much worse”, up from 32% in the previous survey in March. This was often related to increased feelings of anxiety, isolation, a loss of coping mechanisms or a loss of motivation.
Although tools are always evolving most organisations have now defined their standard communication & collaboration tools from MS Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, Slack etc.
Here is a simple overview some of the more well known and alternative tools around
Just because you work from home doesn't mean your ability to work as a team has to suffer. There are a variety of tools and strategies to keep teams working efficiently and effectively.
As the world unexpectedly shifted towards #WFH, Creately put together this guide to provide you with practical suggestions and tools for being productive as a team when working remotely. It will help you establish a more transparent and empowering workplace culture. https://creately.com/guide/working-from-home/practical-guide-for-teams/
All teams working from home must have good communication strategies in place to survive and thrive. It’s key to avoid misinterpretations, confusion and failed relationships.
Setting clear expectations is crucial to managing a team that works from home. It plays a part in their personal growth and in guiding them in the right direction.
Building a positive team culture when everyone is scattered across the continent might sound difficult, but it’s not unachievable. Here are some tips you can rely on to do this successfully.
HR / Policies
The law isn’t different just because staff are out of sight. Make certain that your policies and procedures apply to the whole workforce not just those who work on-site.
Risk assessments are required for all roles, regardless of where they are performed. Don't forget that working from home is "work" not "home" therefore all the usual laws and regulations apply to the "work" environment.
Have you setup a policy on home working?
- update any related policies & procedures to reflect all places of work
- regularly review your policies and check if they can be improved
- consult your employees and any representatives
- check whether you need to make changes to employment contracts
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic, many people have been working from home. You may now make these arrangements more formal. - https://www.acas.org.uk/policies-for-home-and-hybrid-working
Health & Safety
As an employer you are responsible for the health and safety of people who work from home in the same way that you are responsible for any other worker.
You should speak to your employees about their specific home working situation, as working from home may not be ideal for everyone. Some people, for example, may not have an acceptable place to work or may choose to come to work for reasons of wellbeing or simply work better in an communal environment.
According to the HSE;
Things you should consider as part of your risk assessment for home workers include:
Here are more common areas to highlight provided by the HSE
- Slips and Trips – The majority of slips and trips are caused by obstructions in walkways, bad flooring, footwear and uneven surfaces. So look to good housekeeping around the workstation or work area, especially if the home worker is going to have colleagues or customers visiting.
- Manual handling – The law requires you to assess the loads that might be carried, as injuries can occur almost anywhere, even while working at home. Assess the risks and put sensible health and safety measures in place to avoid injury.
- Electrical items – Ensure that the equipment that you provide is safe for use. You are only required to provide PAT testing for the equipment that the employer is supplying, so you don’t have to check all the electrical items around the workers home.
- Lone working without supervision – There will always be greater risks for lone workers with no direct supervision or anyone to help them if things go wrong. Keep in touch with all remote workers, including those working from home, to ensure they are healthy and safe.
How can MyTeamSafe help you in 2022?
From just £2.50 per month per worker MyTeamSafe helps ensure your staff and your business are protected.
MyTeamSafe doesn’t just provide the typical periodic check-ins and panic button but also helps monitor the wellbeing of employees by asking defined questions, at different times during the day or week – From "Have you had your screen break” to “have are you coping with your workload”.
With other special features such as being able to send “Notes” to supervisors / buddy, automated voice calls and What3Words integration.
To help understand how MyTeamSafe fits into real organisations we created the following articles.
Check out Dave’s story about how MyTeamSafe kept him feeling safer - https://content.myteamsafe.com/blog-dave-the-lone-worker/
And Tracey’s story (Daves boss) about how she’s happier she knows her staff are safe - https://content.myteamsafe.com/blog-traceys-story/
MyTeamSafe ticks many of the boxes to help ensure remote working staff are protected as well as your organisation; from understanding welling to ensuring people feel connected and to meet your legal duty of care.