Setting up for a mobile workforce
I'm sure a lot of you have or are thinking about what working from home looks like for yourself and your business. As level 2 kicks in, we turning our minds to how to we make the most of some of the benefits we've experienced from having our office based workers now working from home. We've opened up the office from Monday, but most people feel pretty comfortable remaining working from home because they have everything they need (we let them take monitors and chairs etc. home before lockdown).
Is your business well set up for mobile workers? do you have processes in place for hepling your workers be safe at home? How did you navigate tricky subjects like power bills, interage usage, ergonomics, expectations on availability, and even how many smoke alarms they have etc.
I know the last sentence is little contriversial - but if you have processes in place would you be willing to share with us?
Essentially no processes. Basically if your people have the wherewithal to get through life at home and come to work they will be able to navigate all the safety "risks" at home without the intrusion of a health and safety person giving them help. If they can't, they ought not be at home and need better direct supervision in the usual workplace. (Disclaimer - I was asked to complete a 16 page work from home document, including checklists and photographs for our Covid home workers .Needless to say it went in the bin.)
I've just had to bring the last lot back to work this week. Quite happy sloping around in their jim jams and then creating work patterns that work well for their book reading, social networking, afternoon naps and whatever other home comforts they enjoyed.
Biggest issue is measuring productivity, not safety. So home based work, works well for measurable process output type work. A bit early to say but I reckon 3-5 home based workers = 1 less office worker. That is - productivity, at home isnt that great over the longer term. Theres also issues around protection of IP / network security etc
It does require a high trust model. I work with the principle that 10% of people will create 80% of your problems. Doesnt matter what the subject or issue, principle applies and has withstood the test of time. Same applies to home workers. I had my usual 10% causing the usual problems. 80% worked really well.
I didnt entertain any conversation on power, internet or other household expenses. These would have been generated by the home occupant regardless of work. And in any case off set by commuting cost expenses. Unless the expense was exceptional I'd be more concerned about the thinking of the individual than the safety. I did reimburse office consumables such as printer ink.
Thanks for sharing your company's experience with working from home. In our view the last sentence isn’t controversial. In fact, it raises a very valid point. Employers have an obligation to ensure their workers’ health and safety wherever their employees are working - this includes from home.
This should be done by completing a virtual hazard and risk assessment of the home work environment. Matters that should be assessed include work space set up, ergonomics, and fire safety and it is wise to include smoke alarms in this list! We created a comprehensive hazard and risk assessment sheet for our staff to complete at the start of lockdown earlier this year.
Matters such as expenses and processes for things like heating, internet and stationery items should be addressed upfront in a working from home policy, as this will help manage employees expectations upfront.
If you are contemplating shifting to a working from home or flexible working model it is also worth considering how you will continue to foster a healthy work culture, including encouraging regular communication and fostering team morale.
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