Managing a new home-based workforce

As the nation’s workforce picks up its laptop and heads home to work for the foreseeable future, are you as an employer prepared for how to manage this new situation?

It’s a new challenge faced by managers and teams across the country: how to keep staff productive, happy, and focused while ensuring safety and good mental health conditions.

Alan Tungate, safety consultant at A.C.T. National Health and Safety, says its important employers understand they have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.

Alan said: “When someone is working from home temporarily, as an employer you should consider:

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  • How will you keep in touch with them?
  • What work activity will they be doing?
  • Can it be done safely?
  • Do you need to put control measures in place to protect them?

“There is no increased risk from display screen equipment (DSE) for those working at home temporarily.  So you don’t need to do home workstation assessments. You could give workers advice on completing their own basic assessment at home, and a practical assessment checklist will help but you don’t have to provide one if working from home is temporary.”

Although many companies promote home working as part of work/life balance arrangements, few will have anticipated this being the new ‘normal’ for their entire workforce.

Alan said: “Suddenly, we all work from home. Timescales are blurred, working day structures disappear, the need to ‘dress’ for the office has gone and the sofa is your new desk. It’s more important than ever that the work/life balance is maintained, and employers are taking care of mental health among their teams.”

Alan has provided Event Industry News with some tips.

  1. Get ready for work. This can help to switch from home to professional mode. Otherwise, weekend or day off mode prevails and our efficiency will be affected.
  2. Finish off any domestic duties first. Having tasks outstanding will only cause distractions. Finish them and then ‘go to work’.
  3. The workspace. Whether it is a desk in the spare room or the kitchen table, establish it and own it as the office for the day. When you are sat there it is work time. Step away from it when its time for a break.
  4. Ergonomics. Ask simple (and honest) questions “Is my spine in a natural position?” “Are my shoulders slumped, or are the arms rested and taking the weight”. If it isn’t practical or prudent to invest in a desk then it is possible to use a book or other domestic items to raise up the laptop screen.
  5. Socialise. As early as you can, call someone, have a Skype meeting or a Whatsapp chat. In our daily lives, we have that human contact and we need it to feel included and that we exist.
  6. Availability. At suitable times in your schedule try and let colleagues or clients know that you are ‘available’, an easy setting in Skype-style products.  That way colleagues may place their calls or send in their queries at a time that suits you rather than later in the day. It also reminds people you are at work still.
  7. Job List. The final activity of the day is to do your task list for the following morning. Be realistic and achievable in the entries. 
  8. Working hours. Finish work! Working from home does not mean you are available for work all day. Identify your finish time, turn off the technology and leave the workspace. 

ACT National can give you advice if you’re getting to grips with a new home-based workforce.

Email ACT National at mail@theactgroup.net

Paul Allott is a director and co-founder of Event Industry News, Event Tech Live and the Event Technology Awards.