Although it has been months since we started working from home, the transition to this new lifestyle still poses numerous challenges to many employees. Yet, one of the causes for these challenges could be the lack of support employers provide to their workforce. If you don't have access to suitable equipment, check out this article. We have discussed a work from home policy you should get familiar with whether you are an employee or employer.
Remote Work and Its Impact on Wellbeing
Working remotely, most of the time impacts our health, both physical and mental. More than half of remote workers experienced new aches and pains within the first two weeks of the first lockdown – neck, shoulder, and back pain.
Working hunched over your kitchen table and sitting for hours on an uncomfortable wooden chair that doesn't provide neck and back support can cause discomfort and affect your productivity – big time. If you haven't prepared well – bought the right equipment and created a designated workspace, working from home could be a living hell for you.
Some employees even developed, or are likely to develop musculoskeletal conditions. Employers became aware of this problem years ago, which is why they took it seriously and improved their employees' office scenario. Yet, have they done the same with their employees' home offices? We'll talk about this in a bit!
Employers' Responsibilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Health and Safety at Work Act obliges employers to ensure their employees' safety and wellbeing while working. Employers should consider reasonable adjustments they can make to help their employees carry out their work effectively without compromising their health. That includes buying and delivering furniture and equipment (second screens, for instance) to their employees' homes.
Employers can provide all necessary equipment if they have the budget to do so, including laptops, printers, phones, chairs, etc. Smaller companies and startups have, most of the time, provided their employees with laptops only. The third model is the most flexible and it includes providing a technology stipend so remote workers can choose themselves equipment and furniture that would make working from home equally productive and comfortable as it is in their offices.
Besides minimising physical risks by purchasing equipment, employers should also outline and send out basic guidelines to their employers. For example, they should remind them to get up and stretch every 30 minutes, state clear working hours, etc.
Other employers' obligations include paying for employees' additional household expenses. Employees working from home typically use more electricity and/or gas, which employers should cover. You can claim tax relief on £6/week, which is great!
Companies can decide the path they want to take to help their remote employees. They can pay for all the equipment and furniture their workforce needs or they can provide only the necessary equipment. However, they should carry in mind not ensuring their employees' working environment is safe for their mental and physical health can bring up a new set of challenges to face, but we strongly believe this is the moment when they shouldn't even think about taking any risks.