It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure a safe working environment for all employees, regardless of whether they work in the office or remotely.
Reduce health risks caused by poor ergonomics by assisting your remote employees to purchase ergonomic items for work. Reimburse remote employees for ergonomic items they purchase for work.
If remote employees start working from home, provide them with the same ergonomic furniture and supplies as their counterparts in the office
Conduct ergonomic assessments of remote employees and provide them with recommended items
The following considerations should be taken into account to ensure the environment for remote working is suitable:
- the type of work to be undertaken at home on a full time, part time or ad-hoc basis.
- Whether there is a dedicated space that can be set up in the home that is safe, suitable and free from distractions
- What equipment will be required or needs to be provided for example desk, chair, monitor, keyboard, printer
- What means of communication and training will be provided.
‘According to a recent study, 41.2% of workers at home experience back pain and 23.5% experience neck pain. Experts point out that many of these health issues can be prevented by taking simple steps to improve the work environment at home.’
Employees must identify a suitable space within their home for remote working. When identifying a suitable space, they need to:
- Ensure that there is enough light, heat, and ventilation to comfortably conduct business
- Keep the work space tidy
- Keep the work area free from loud noise interruptions and distractions
- Make sure the floor is clean, dry and free from slip, trip and fall hazards
- Provide suitably located power sockets to avoid trailing cables and overloading of sockets
- Ensure the availability of adequate internet/phone.
‘Employers must identify what equipment/resources employees need to work from home and to agree these with the employee. Required equipment can be recorded in the remote working risk assessment/checklist.’
Such equipment may include:
- work desk and adjustable chair
- IT equipment, for example monitor, keyboard mouse, printer
- a headset if dealing with frequent phone/video calls
- work phone/internet
- adequate stationery
‘It is important to have a remote working policy that clearly outlines the responsibilities of both employees and employers. This policy should describe the requirements and criteria to work from home.’
Remote employees’ mental health can suffer from working alone at home all day. Health and safety concerns aren’t exclusive to physical safety.
A remote worker’s greatest challenge is loneliness. Without the camaraderie of an office setting, they may feel lonely and isolated. Failing to receive regular feedback and contact from their manager might cause remote employees to feel confused and lost.
Employees working from home also may experience burnout. With constant access to their office and work devices, they might feel obligated to work until late at night or start early. Long hours can result in insomnia, anxiety, and withdrawing from family.
Support your remote employees’ mental health by:
- Offering mental health benefits
- Using technology to keep employees connected during work and social events
- Maintain regular communication with remote employees
- Exercise should be encouraged
- Employees who work remotely need flexibility
- When remote employees do good work, recognize and reward them
- Encourage good work/life balance
- Provide mental health resources to all employees.
- Coworkers can be a vital source of support for those workers who do not have close family relationships. By providing virtual cafes, organizations can foster informal interactions.
Pick your tools and technologies
- Select the right technologies to deliver a cohesive digital workspace tailored to your business needs.
- Select tools that foster collaboration and employee engagement.
- Implement technologies with low barriers to contribution and participation.
There are five key steps to effectively managing remote workers:
- Develop a remote work policy
- Identify and consult with employees who will work from home
- Identify what gear and resources are required
- Use a risk assessment/checklist to assess the remote work environment
- Regularly monitor, review, and communicate with your employees
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R1 297 – R1 397 incl. VAT
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