With so many people now working from home when they may not have been before, there’s one concern that many business owners might not be considering. Although your employees are working from home and not from your office, you are still responsible for their health and safety. They need to have safe working environments at home, which might require you to help them by ensuring they have a suitable home office environment. That doesn’t mean that it’s all on you. Your employees are also responsible for making sure they have a safe home office, but there are some things you can do to help them get set up.
Clarify with a Clear Contract
Understanding what the employer’s responsibility is and what is the employee’s responsibility is one of the tricky things when considering remote working. Although employers bear some responsibility for their remote workers, they can’t have complete control over them. That’s why it’s important to set out who is responsible for what, and what your employees are expected to do. For example, you can’t be at fault if your employees happen to hurt themselves in their kitchens. A written contract will clearly outline the rules and what both you and your employees are expected to do.
Set Requirements for Workspace
One of the ways to help ensure health and safety for your remote employees is setting expectations for their home office. You might reinforce this by asking them to send a photo of the space that they are using. Some requirements that you could set include having a proper desk (or table) and chair, rather than working from their sofa. You might require them to have good lighting, to avoid overloading plug sockets, and to have a dedicated workspace away from pets and children. These things can help them to be safer while they work.
Recommend Products and Practices
Another option for helping your employees with health and safety at home is to recommend products to use and practices to follow. You might recommend an ergonomic keyboard and mouse for Mac use or recommend an ergonomic desk chair for your employees to use. You don’t necessarily have to require them to buy anything, but you can give them guidelines for how to stay comfortable and safe when working at home. Provide them with some tips on best practices for things like sitting properly or avoiding repetitive strain injuries.
Assist with Mental Health
Working remotely can have an effect on mental health too, especially at the moment, when there are added factors causing stress. As an employer or HR worker, you can help employees to manage stress and their mental health while they’re at home. You could check in with employees, host remote social events, and provide resources to help employees. Direct them toward the websites and services that can help them if they’re struggling and perhaps even consider offering counseling.
You can’t completely control health and safety for remote workers, but there are steps that you can take to help ensure safe working environments.