During the current crisis many of us have had to adapt our working practices and approach to help us manage during lockdown.

With many people working from home, some for the first-time, others for a prolonged period. What support does your workforce have in place, for those working from home?

We have set out some practical tips and hints to both support businesses and their workers during this period.

Recognise the home/workplace risks:

The first thing to recognise is an employer is asking an employee to put aside part of their home to allow them to work. This could be a separate room, the settee or the kitchen table.

Wherever this is it will not be the same as a dedicated office space, where for instance there will be DSE compliant desks, seats and monitors or accessible and adequate power supplies and network access.

To ensure a safe home working environment we recommend undertaking a simple risk assessment on the workspace, as doing this allows both the employer and employee to highlight any potential risks and put actions in place to mitigate.

How would you feel as an employer, if for instance, an accident happened as a result an overloaded power socket?

Protect your data:

You may be asking your employees to use their own equipment whilst working from home.  Will it have adequate anti-virus and security software especially if they are going to access work systems and servers? Do you know if they have any of these and if so, are they up-to-date?

Will you be asking employees to take non-electronic data out of the office? 

If so, have you agreed how this will be stored safely when not being used as if a data breach does occur the consequences both financially and reputationally could be costly.

Set clear parameters:

Setting clear parameters, the do’s and don’ts, allows both the employer and employee to know what they can and cannot do.

The normal rules and procedures may have to flex to accommodate the new working environment and practices each find themselves in.

A simple way you may want to consider is to adopt a series of policies to help set out the expected practices and norms. The three policies we would recommend you consider are as follows:

  1. A working from home policy which can set out the roles and responsibilities of both the employee and the employer and how to contact any party if support and assistance is required
  2. An IT policy which can set out what is allowed and not allowed within the IT space. It should cover what software is permitted to be used, where to source downloads from and what level of Anti-Virus Software is required. Don’t forget rules around password security.
  3. A Social Media Policy as people are reaching out over these platforms to communicate and engage more than ever. In doing so, you may want to guard your business against any inappropriate comments made about or on your business behalf by your employees.

Having these types of policies above will help set out what is expected and will allow an employer a route for recourse if an issue does arise.

Recognise the costs:

As previously mentioned, an employer may be asking their employees to set up an office in their home and in doing this, they may incur some costs:

  • Broadband – Do they have unlimited or need to increase speeds to manage work related activity?
  • Mobile data and phone charges – Will the employee need to use their own telephony to stay in contact and work. If so, will their current plan be sufficient?
  • Software – Will they need to download specific software on their own PC such as Anti-Virus programmes or the Office suite.
  • Office set up – What else may they need? Think about printers, shredders etc.

As an employer, it’s best to recognise these costs and be clear how they will be addressed rather than leaving it for the employee to ask

Working From Home Support

If an employer does ask their employee to work in their own home, it will come with a range of complications and distractions for the employee.

Therefore, recognising and allowing flexibility in the day will ensure that all parties can balance both their work and home life commitments.

For more information and a series of free to access and use resources to support home working visit our hub here: petaurumhr.co.uk/remote-working/