The current situation we find ourselves in means that there may be several people now working from home, that never did this before. For some employees they will perhaps be balancing a partner working from home, engaging with children and their early years’ service, school, study, caring for an elder relative and all the other matters that this situation has raised on a day to day basis. The following tips can apply equally to the employer and the employee regarding working from home.
Day to day Routine
Working from home is just not the same as in the workplace. Plan your day as much as you can if possible. What work have you to complete each day? Have you to participate in a video/IT link for your service or staff. Has this to be done at a particular time? Have you to prepare curriculum plans or undertake online training courses etc? Have you as the employer set out particular requirements for the employee to take on during their working from home?
Most people will not have a dedicated workspace set up from home. If you have to work from a laptop or computer find a place near to natural light. Try to work from the same place ,for example, a lot of activities will no doubt be done from the kitchen table so allocate a space for everyone including the children, depending on their age group.
You can take a break from what you are doing and plan an activity for everyone at the table to engage in – some family time!
If you can agree a time when the work moves off the kitchen table if that is what you are using, and you then have time to relax. Try to make a division between workspace and home space.
Making the Adjustment
Do continue with the regular things like getting dressed, getting out for some fresh air [observing the HSE guidelines of course], having a break and lunch as you would in work.
Looking after your own mental health and well being is also important and that of the family too as they may be anxious and concerned about what is happening at present.
Do remember to refer to the HSE and related websites for information and other reliable validated sources. Try not to get caught up on the social media or at least limit it.
Health & Safety
Both employers and employees have obligations and responsibility in this regard. Employers need to consult with employers to ensure that:
- The employee is aware of any specific risks regarding working from home
- Work activities and the temporary workspace are suitable
- Provision of equipment is usually required. However, in this temporary situation suitable equipment such as the employee’s own laptop/compute or a mobile phone may be used where appropriate.
Where the employees are using computers and digital technology employers should give employees some reminders
- Varying their work tasks to ensure that they are not in the same position for long periods of time
- If working from a laptop/computer to ensure that while they may be near natural light, there is no glare on the screens
- Using the equipment in a position that minimises twisting or overreaching
- Have enough workspace to do the work
- Remind employees to take regular breaks and to stand and move for one minute for every hour at the computer/digital device
Employers and employees should ensure that there is a communication link set up. It can be email, phone calls, using IT platforms such as Zoom, Skype or anything that works for you during this time.
Employers should be clear about what work employees are expected to do during this period and communicate back to the employer. It is a two way process.
Employers should also consider the following and this may depend on the level of work being undertaken at home:
- Have all contact details for employees on file and agree the way that they will be contacted
- Keep in touch through updates on the phone, email, WhatsApp staff group, or other IT platforms [communication link as noted above]
- Ensure the employee’s work is organised/arranged so that they can take regular breaks and that they separate work/home life.
- Provide feedback to employees on the work presented or undertaken
- Encourage employees to maintain contact with their colleagues