Many businesses have begun to embrace the idea of flexible working and working from home and, in the current climate, more and more of us may find ourselves plunged into doing so for longer than the one to two days a week, which employers and employees adapt to fairly easily.

It is predicted that by 2020, half of UK’s workforce will work from home, according to the Office for National Statistics. This hub has been put together by SHP, Barbour EHS and The Healthy Work Company to provide research, case studies, videos and resources to enable you to lead this transition in a way which safeguards the wellbeing of your teams and maximises the opportunity to embrace new ways of working for the futureremote-office-work

In an age where work and life need to integrate much more successfully, remote working can be a wonderful thing. But it is also full of pitfalls for both managers and employees. Our hub will help your organisation to navigate those.

WHO EURO has released a guide on how to stay physically active during self-quarantine.

Home worker or lone worker?

Writing for SHP in 2018, Worthwhile Training’s Nicole Vazquez suggested employers need to be aware that their home workers are lone workers and should be treated as such, particularly when it comes to mental health and wellbeing.

The rise in home working has mirrored the rise in technology. Robust broadband means employees can now check-in with the office from the spare room, coffee shop or just about anywhere with an internet connection.

Benefits to employers are obvious; finances improve as overheads like office space and other facilities are offset as employers provide their own workspace. Workers often report increased motivation from the flexibility that remote working offers, increasing productivity and staff retention.

However, like the railway engineer and security guard the home worker is still classified as a lone worker; something often overlooked by employers.

Heather Beach, Founder of the Healthy Work Company, has been a home worker and has managed home workers for the last three years. She is ready to admit she made lots of mistakes and as a result had to research the topic thoroughly. She has started a Facebook group for those new homeworkers needing support with looking after themselves.

Employers have a duty to protect the health and safety of all employees, including home workers. Read our Director’s Briefing, for further information for employers.

Home worker wellbeing webinar

SHP’s latest webinar, which takes place on Friday 27 March, from 11:00am to 12:00noon, will look at health & wellbeing in the workplace. With many employers advising staff work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, it will also look at how period of self-isolation or prolonged time working from home can affect health & wellbeing and require a different approach from managers.

Tips for working from home

phone callThere is no doubt that as well as the anxiety provoked by a potentially deadly virus and no toilet roll or pasta in the supermarket, we are also facing the very likely fact that many workers will be being plunged into home working for the first time, to speak nothing of the potential requirements for isolation.

Some of those workers may already have experience of a day or so a week, but few of them will have worked full time from home and few of their managers will have managed large teams in such a situation either.

A report from the World Economic Forum in 2019 pointed to the fact that a 2017 United Nations report found that 41% of remote workers reported high stress levels, compared to just 25% of office workers. The WEF believed that being ‘out of sight, out of mind’ and the tendency for managers to become increasingly task focused and actually attempt to micromanage more than before was partly to blame.

Conversely, Charalampous et al. in 2018 found that remote working was associated with higher workplace wellbeing with the benefit of flexibility and autonomy.

What we do know though, according to ACAS guidance is that “only suitable people should be offered the choice of regular remote working” (with suitability not just about them as people but also about their home set up). And here we are about to put everyone, suitable or not, into that boat, in an environment which is already highly charged.

The research on how to be a good home worker is mostly focused around entrepreneurs who are accountable just to themselves. The research on how to be a good manager of remote teams is sparse.