Supporting employees working from home
Working from home can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and has additional benefits such as reduced commute time, increased flexibility and productivity, however it may also present risks.
It is important to acknowledge each employee may have a different experience with working from home. The following psychological and physical risk factors should be reviewed for each employee.
Working from home may lead to increased social isolation, feelings of loneliness and potential negative thinking amongst employees due to limited social connection. While working from home, it is important to find ways to support employees in staying connected.
You can help to protect the health and wellbeing of your employees by being aware of the additional stressors that may be imposed due to working from home – including changed working conditions and reduced coping strategies (for example less social support, or poorer self-care, diet and physical activity).
Providing your leaders and employees with access to training and support resources may assist in managing ongoing stressors (for example financial, logistical, psychological and work/life balance).
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Ergonomics and equipment
As COVID-19 restrictions were imposed, businesses were required to adapt to a new of working which included working from home. Due to the initial anticipated short-term duration, the speed of change, and the large number of employees required to work from home, some organisations and employees may not have been adequately prepared.
As we learn more about living with COVID-19 restrictions, organisations need to ensure normal workplace health and safety procedures apply in new working environments such as an employee's home. Employers are recommended to review ergonomics and equipment required to safely work from home (e.g. lighting, seating, noise, trip hazards, room temperature, stationery, laptops, internet, printers, telephones and workstation setup).
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Be aware there are potential safety risks with working from home. We cannot assume that all employees are in a safe environment and for some working from home may exacerbate the risk of psychological or physical harm.
As an employer, it is important to be prepared with accessible support services and resources, and communicate these so all employees can access this information if needed (e.g. EAP or external resources).
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With the introduction of virtual workspaces, employees are now more reliant on technology to stay connected and complete work tasks. Acknowledging that employees' levels of experience and comfort using new technologies will differ, and providing necessary training and/or resources, can prevent additional working from home stress.
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