Working from Home

Published: 19 Mar 2020

Coronavirus has affected everyone’s lives throughout the UK (and the world), some people more than others. One of the recent main points raised by Boris Johnson was that when you can, you should work from home. Following this guidance there has been a huge surge in people working from home.

Some people are used to this, however this is not the norm for many so it is important to ensure that your work station and environment is one which is good and safe for you.

It is important to ensure as employers that you take reasonable precautions to ensure your staffs wellbeing, but not invade their personal privacy. It is important for the employee to assess the risks of working from home including the space and lighting in the area/ work station. As a minimum, there should be enough room for work to be carried out, including space for the workstation, other equipment (e.g. printers) and storage of materials.

If you/ the employee is working more often from home, then they should ideally choose one room as their office. This reduces physical intrusion into the home, helps keep domestic interruptions to a minimum and reduces risks to other people at home (for example: young children). If the room is lockable, so much the better as it improves the security of your equipment and data.

You should also be careful about choosing attics and cellars, because these spaces often have limited access, poor temperature or ventilation control and a lack of natural light. General health and safety hazards need to be considered by both the employer and the worker because employers have little direct control over the home workplace.

Setting up a good work space

You should apply similar furniture and equipment standards to a home workstation as you would in an office. A suitable desk and adjustable chair will normally be needed. These should be ergonomically designed to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal problems.

When setting up your work station please ensure the following is considered:

  • Try to complete a work station DSE questionnaire self-assessment (please refer to CSC policy) if more high risk, a risk assessment may need to be completed.
  • Adjust your chair and sit properly.
  • Make sure your screen is the correct height. Make sure that the top of your screen is in line with your eyebrows. This stops you from dropping your neck or slouching over the screen.
  • Use the laptop safely. If you are using a laptop, a laptop stand is advised to raise it to your eyeline.
  • Take regular breaks- often people assume people that work from home don’t work as hard however it is hard for them to switch off between home and work life. So, ensure regular breaks and you give yourself or employee a clear start and finish time of work.

Mental Wellbeing

Some people may find it difficult to adapt to working in an environment with limited social interaction and others may find time management a struggle.

It’s important to maintain good communication systems and formal means of contact with remote/ work from home workers to minimise feelings of isolation. How you do this will depend on the number of workers you’re dealing with and what they’re doing, but employees and employers should:

  • Have online meetings or virtual discussion forums, tele- or video-conferencing
  • Regular meetings between remote workers and their co-workers – these give employees the opportunity to network and get to know each other. They can also be used to deliver training or reinforce the organisation’s standards
  • Access to the organisation’s intranet site or a secure area of the internet for employees for access to helplines for support in dealing with software problems and equipment failures, procedures if information technology systems fail.
  • Identifying people as key contacts who have specific responsibility for routinely contacting remote workers and acting as their first port of call
  • Providing contact details of key people such as employee representatives, health and safety advisers and human resources officers
  • Including remote workers in the circulation of company newsletters and updates

If you need any further advice on working from home please get in touch with us