Working From Home Challenges
17 September 2020
COVID-19 has thrown employers a mountain of challenges and changes to the way we work. One change that has happened and may be here to stay for some businesses is Working From Home (WFH).
WFH has forced businesses to test their systems and technology to prove that it can be an effective business model. And while many employees prefer the office working environment, some organisations will ensure WFH is a positive legacy of this pandemic allowing employees increased flexibility.
What does WFH mean for employers from an insurance perspective?
There are a number of scenarios that employers need to consider when building their WFH workforce. And as with most management issues, communication and planning is key.
An employer has an obligation to provide a safe place of work at all times according to Safe Work Australia. This is a requirement if your staff are forced to work from home during the pandemic, or you are asking your staff to work from home, or you have decided this increased flexibility for employees is great and here it stay. In each of these scenarios, home is your employees place of work.
Steve Halbert, Managing Director of Austral Risk Services says that "Employers should provide guidance about a safe home office environment as best they can and consider the risks to employees from the home environment. Safe Work Australia is a great resource for this. They have identified a few key areas that employers can control when working with employees to minimise risks."
Here are the steps outlined by Safe Work Australia
- Provide guidance on what is a safe home office environment, including what a good workstation set up looks like, why workers should not be sedentary all day and how to avoid this.
- Allow workers to borrow any necessary work station equipment from the office to take to the home as agreed.
- Require workers to familiarise themselves and comply with good ergonomic practices, consistent with any workplace policies and procedures, for example requiring workers to complete a workstation self-assessment checklist and provide their responses to you.
- Maintain regular communication with workers.
- Provide access to information and support for mental health and wellbeing services. Beyondblue has a freely available website or you may have an existing employee assistance program (EAP) you can promote, and
- Appoint a contact person in the business who workers can talk to about any concerns related to working from home.
It's also important to note that employees can and should be involved in minimising workplace risks as well. An excellent resource for employers can be found at Safe Work Australia. Click here for more information.
Austral Risk Services are risk managers and insurance brokers. Our business is protecting yours.