Is home working set to be the new norm? Despite the COVID-19 vaccine now being administered in the UK, the likelihood is that working from home will be the default stance for quite a while longer. Many organisations had to switch to having their employees to work from home virtually overnight when the initial lockdown period was announced in March. They have made changes to ways of working, how information is shared and stored, how staff and customers communicate and how processes are carried out in order to allow working from home to be as productive and successful as possible.
Many organisations have experienced their staff working from home successfully and have expressed an intent to continue offering employees the opportunity to work from home on a permanent basis once the pandemic is officially over. This means organisations need to think about supporting the health and wellbeing of their employees when working from home for the long term.
The Importance of Posture and a Good Workstation
It will come as no surprise to hear that bad posture and a poorly set up workstation can have massive impacts on the health of employees. Hunching over a screen, sitting on an uncomfortable chair, using a desk that’s the wrong height and many more things can all add up to mean sore backs, aches and pains, and a serious lack of productivity.
Employers have a duty of care to ensure their team have the right equipment to set up a workstation that’s comfortable, fit for purpose and keeps their team healthy. We discussed this in detail in our last blog, so take a look at that for the importance of having Homeworker DSE Assessments carried out.
Encourage Regular Movement
Many people who work from home (and in offices!) sit down for long periods of time without moving around. It’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits, so it’s vital that employers encourage regular movement and exercise. Reminding employees to take breaks, to get outside for a walk, encouraging virtual exercise classes and sending reminders to get up and move are all good ways of doing so.
Ensure Employees Aren’t Overworking
When working from home it can be tempting to work longer hours to get more done, but this isn’t healthy for employees. It’s imperative that organisations encourage regular working hours and try to ensure employees stop for regular breaks and don’t overwork themselves.
Help Separate Work and Personal Life
When individuals don’t have offices to visit that physically separate work life and home life, it can be easy for work-life to spill into personal life. This can mean taking calls during days off and after normal working hours, answering emails at the weekend and working extra hours to try to ‘get ahead’.
Organisations must make it clear that none of these things is expected of their team and that they are certainly not encouraged. Instead, encouraging staff to make the most of time off, spend time doing hobbies and spending time with family and friends will result in happier, more productive and more engaged employees in the long run.
When not working in the same physical space, it can be easy to lose that sense of relationship with employees. Leaders and managers must set aside time to regularly check in with all of their team members, check there are no points of concern and ensure everyone is happy.
With home working set to be the new norm, taking steps to support employees properly will help to foster and nourish a positive company culture that employees enjoy being a part of and will, in turn, mean more productivity, engagement and organisational success.