When the Prime Minister announced lockdown in March 2020 it was hard to imagine a world where remote working would become the norm. Now, according to research by the BBC, almost all of the UK’s 50 largest employers intend to implement permanent flexible working after lockdown, and many other employers are following suit.
Although staff working remotely offers a lot of benefits, it can present challenges too and as an employer you need to keep up your responsibilities towards employee health, safety and wellbeing.
Whether employees are working from home full time or part time, employers’ responsibility towards their health and safety is the same as it would be if they were in the workplace.
If remote working has become a long-term thing in your organisation, you need to manage employees’ DSE (display screen equipment) risks, if they work with screens. For example, staring at a screen for too long at a time or using an uncomfortable chair can cause eye strain or back ache, so employers are responsible for issuing all employees with a DSE assessment to identify any potential issues.
If issues are raised, suitable steps must be taken to address them. Including:
- Issuing staff with equipment (e.g. an office chair)
- Offering extra support to employees with additional needs
- Organising training and support
DSE assessments must be reviewed regularly, especially when details of an employee’s job role changes or if they move to a new house where their workstation will be different.
Home working can be isolating for some and although many enjoy the flexibility, others find lack of regular face-to-face contact stressful.
When they are working remotely, keep in touch with staff regularly on a one-to-one basis. It is always good to check:
- How they are feeling in general
- If they are coping with their workload
- If they need any extra support
- Any health and safety concerns
Conversations like this will not only encourage open and honest discussion between employee and employer, but will enable you to pick upon potential issues in relation to mental health early. Warning signs of stress might include:
- A usually punctual employee arriving late regularly or taking more time off
- An employee becoming withdrawn or uncharacteristically quiet
- Lack of motivation or reduced confidence
- Unusual mood swings or out of character emotional reactions
- Changes in the quality of someone’s work
It is not always easy to spot signs that something is wrong but if you’re concerned, it is always best to encourage conversation about mental wellbeing with an employee so support can be given before things get worse.
Promoting positive employee mental health is encouraged as part of an employer’s duty of care. Creating a ‘mental health positive’ culture within your organisation can be as simple as:
- Creating an atmosphere where employees are encouraged to talk openly without fear of judgement
- Praising good work
- Offering benefits such as counselling
- Offering mental health training for staff
- Using an employee assistance programme (EAP)
It isn’t always easy to talk to employees about mental health. If you’re not sure where to start, it may be beneficial to take a mental health first aid course, so you are equipped with the knowledge to identify signs and approach conversations about mental health.
Let employees talk about their mental health own their terms, especially if they have opened up to you about mental health issues. Allow them to talk freely, listen and be supportive.
Staff feeling supported and happy is not only fantastic for staff morale but should be part of being a good employer. If you need some help of advice about monitoring staff’s wellbeing when they’re working remotely, we can help. Give us a call on 01509 861262 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to one of our experts!
The information provided in all of our blogs reflects only a narrative of some elements to consider on the topic. The blogs do not contain considered legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Please see our website terms and conditions for full details of our disclaimer. If you are interested in obtaining advice, please contact one of our lawyers who will be happy and able to advise you on your own particular circumstances.