With a large percentage of the UK’s workforce now working from home as a result of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, it has become more important than ever to consider the home working environment and associated risks to your employees’ physical and mental health.
Employers have a duty of care to employees, whether they are working on or offsite, and this extends to homeworking. Specifically, the employer is responsible for carrying out a risk assessment to check whether the proposed home workplace’s ventilation, temperature, lighting, space, chair, desk and computer, or any kind of workstation, and floor are suitable for the tasks the homeworker will be carrying out. The employer is also responsible for the equipment it supplies, but it is the employee’s responsibility to rectify any flaws in the home highlighted by the assessment. Once the home workplace has passed the assessment, it is the employee who is responsible for keeping it maintained. ACAS provides a comprehensive guide to homeworking for employers and employees, which you can view on their site.
With this in mind, it is important that employers consider their employees’ homeworking arrangements to mitigate their risk of future claims. Whilst this may not be a priority at such a difficult time for businesses and the economy generally, it is worthwhile doing some basic checks to ensure that employees’ basic mental and physical health is not adversely affected.
To help you navigate potential issues related to working from home, we have collated some basic advice, which you can distribute to employees to help them create a healthy workstation at home, maintain workplace wellness, and optimise productivity.
Choose the Right Chair
Choosing the right chair to sit upon during your working day can have a more profound effect on your physical health than you may expect. To reduce the amount of lower back stress, as well as visual difficulty when working (the effects of which can significantly reduce both productivity and motivation), we would recommend the following:
- Adjust the seat height so that your feet are flat on the floor, and your legs are at a 90° angle with knees equal to or slightly lower than your hips
- Slightly recline the back of the chair to an angle that matches approximately 110°. This allows for both upper and lower back support and avoids ‘hunching’ over your computer.
- Sit in the chair with your hips and bottom positioned on the back of the chair seat. This also helps to support the lower back.
Arrange your Desk
Arranging your desk so that your monitor, keyboard and mousepad are properly positioned can alleviate eye strain as well as helping to maintain good posture.
- Sit at least an arm’s length away from your screen and adjust the ‘zoom’ on the monitor to suit your vision.
- Reduce screen reflection and glare by positioning your screen away from windows or by adjusting blinds.
- Try to position source documents directly in front of you between the monitor and the keyboard to help reduce neck strain.
- To maintain correct wrist positioning and to reduce aches and pains, try tilting your keyboard away from you at a negative angle using the keyboard ‘feet’ or a homemade prop.
Consider your Environment
Your environment can both positively and negatively impact your productivity when working from home. Although being within familiar surroundings may seem comforting, it can cause individuals to lack motivation and become easily distracted.
- Try to have a separate workspace. Use a desk instead of sitting on your bed on or the sofa. This will help you stay in a ‘professional’ mindset and make your day feel more ‘normal’.
- Try and work somewhere that is well lit. This will reduce eye strain and make you feel more awake and productive
- Take breaks. It can be easy to get stuck behind the screen, but try to ensure you take scheduled lunch/tea breaks.
Overall, working from home and maintaining a healthy, productive routine can prove difficult, but with these simple tips, employers can advise their workforce on the best ways to stay motivated and maintain strong results despite these uncertain times.
Keep your employees happy and sustain productivity for your business by trusting the insurance professionals at Robison & Co Ltd to provide you with all of the resources you need to stay compliant and prosperous. If you would like more information about workplace wellness, download our Workplace Wellness Scorecard or call our expert team on 01730 265500.
About Robison Insurance Brokers
Robison is an experienced business and personal insurance broker based in Petersfield, specialising in sourcing specialist insurance advice for businesses in the public and private sectors throughout Hampshire and the South. Our highly trained staff are on hand to offer support and guidance for your business, benefiting from a wealth of experience working within a wide range of industries from professional services to retail. Whether you are looking for public liability insurance or advice about workplace wellness, our team can offer tailored advice and services no matter your requirements. To arrange an audit, call our team on 01730 265 500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.