Many people work from home for many different reasons. Some have being doing it full-time for a long time; some part-time i.e. 1-3 days per week and 1-2 days in the office or vice versa and others have / are experiencing it for the first time whether it be part-time or full-time.
For some employees in the latter group, this will be a new experience although others may be used to working from home as in the former.
To work from home, you will need a laptop, a good internet connection, and a dedicated work space. There are many free online tools and resources for instant chat and video conferencing.
Employers must ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all their employees. Employees also have responsibilities when they are working from home.
This document from Citizens Information outlines the duties of employers and employee responsibilities during home working and giving us general tips on working from home.
Employers have specific duties to ensure the safety, health and welfare at work of all their employees. These duties include the employee’s workspace if employees work from home.
Key duties include:
- Managing and conducting all work activities to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare of employees
- Providing safe work that is planned, organised, and maintained
- Assessing risks and implementing appropriate control measures
- Providing safe equipment including personal protective equipment, where necessary
- Giving information, instruction, training and supervision about safety and health to employees
- Having plans in place for emergencies
If employees have a disability, are young workers or are pregnant, employers need to ensure that the tasks and working conditions do not adversely affect their health.
Your employer should check with you to ensure:
- You are aware of any specific risks when working from home
- The work activity and the temporary workspace are suitable
- You have suitable equipment to do the work. For example, your employer should make sure that the applications and systems you need are installed on your computer
- There is a pre-arranged means of contact
Equipment and your workspace at home
If your employer provides equipment, it must be in good condition and suitable for the activity. If you already have suitable equipment at home, it can be used temporarily.
Employers must check that your temporary home workspace is suitable for the work. This includes things like safe access to the space, essential equipment, that the space is big enough and free of clutter, there is adequate lighting, ventilation, heat, and that electrical sockets, plugs and cords are in good condition.
Employers need to communicate regularly with employees and ensure that employees are taking adequate breaks.
Employers should also:
- Keep in contact with employees
- Give regular updates to each employee
- Have emergency contacts and procedures in place
- Ensure employees take adequate breaks
If you are working from home, you have a responsibility to take reasonable care of yourself and other people who may be affected by the work you are doing.
- Cooperate with your employer and follow their instructions
- Protect yourself and others from harm during the course of your work For example, you must take care of your equipment and report any problems immediately to your employer
- Report injuries to your employer immediately
- Follow any procedures put in place by your employer i.e. checking in regularly
- Agree temporary remote working arrangements with your employer, including regular communication with them
- Identify the work to be done at home with your employer
- Identify the equipment you need to set up a safe workspace at home and agree this with your employer
- Identify a suitable safe space within your home for home working
- Agree plans and contacts to be used in the event of an emergency
- Ensure you have a suitable workspace
General tips for working from home
We have summarised general tips to help you look after your health and well-being while working from home as follows:
- Stick to your normal routine as much as possible, starting your day as you normally would: shower, getting dressed and eating breakfast
- Keep times for lunch, dinner as close to normal as you can
- When taking breaks resist the temptation to just go and make a coffee and come back to your workspace. Make the effort to go into another room or out to the garden, if you have one
- Log off for your lunch break
- If your partner is also working from home, arrange to have breaks together in another room or in the garden, if you have one
- Give your eyes a break, for 5 to 10 minutes every hour. Get up, move around and take your eyes off the screen
- Try to limit your social and news media intake
- Exercise, stretch and go out for a walk if possible
- Make sure you rest and get a good night’s sleep
- Restrict the amount of alcohol you consume during the week to help you stay focused
- Eat healthy foods even though as it is tempting to increase your intake of snack foods
- Do take annual leave, it may help to take even a portion of the leave planned so you can concentrate on your own health and wellbeing
- Keep in touch with your colleagues, pick up the phone or video call colleagues that you would usually spend breaks or lunchtime with and chat to them for a few minutes