25% of employees working from home experience loneliness and isolation while being away from colleagues. The impact of working from home can affect mental health and as an employer, it’s worth considering the benefits of working from home risk assessments.
Working from home can bring a number of benefits, both to the employee and the business; whether this is financial benefits through the minimised cost of commuting, office space and facilities, or opening up a wider pool of applicants by dismissing geographical issues. Research shows that working from home has the potential to increase staff motivation, as it reduces stress and sickness levels, allowing productivity to be maintained throughout the business.
However, where there are benefits, there will always be risks, and it is important for employers to recognise these and work to understand what can be done to raise awareness and prevent employees from feeling isolated in their environment when working from home.
For more understanding on employee mental health, our Mental health and Me training can help employees get to grips with their mental health and how to improve it.
Working from home risk assessments
It’s common for employers to feel like they have lost oversight and control of their staff when they undertake remote working, but enhances in technology allow a higher level of communication than ever before, and new ways of control to be put in place to monitor results, performance and productivity – it’s not hard to see why homeworking is becoming increasingly popular.
Despite this, it’s important to recognise the benefits and risks and by undertaking the correct procedures you can ensure you are not liable for any personal injury claims, as well as having the knowledge to ensure risk assessments are undertaken in the correct manner. Ensuring their home is compliant with health and safety regulations, as well as recognising how stress and mental health could be impacted through a feeling of isolation and homeworking.
Working from home risk assessments cover a range of areas:
- Working with display screen equipment at home
- Working environment and accidents
- Stress and mental health
The HSE advises employers to conduct regular risk assessments for all employees, including homeworkers. Working from home risk assessments should include the minimum of:
- identifying hazards, what could cause injury or illness
- identify how likely it is for the employee to be at risk
- taking control or making adjustments to control risk
By law, as an employer, you must abide by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to protect your employees from harm. Examples of risk assessments and templates can be found on the HSE site.
Employee mental health and Isolation Issues
As we delve into stress and mental health issues, one of the major risks facing homeworkers is the feeling of isolation. While distractions in an office can often impact productivity if they are not managed correctly, it’s often these interactions that give us the motivation to carry on with our work.
It is these interactions that are noticeably missing when working from home. By ensuring that a routine is put in place throughout the working day to communicate with your team and management, and strengthen the link to the outside world beyond the four walls of your home office you can limit the feeling of isolation that comes through working from home.
We are more connected than ever, with video conferencing technology making waves to help businesses maintain communication in more ways, phone and email still also play a huge part in allowing employees who work from home to remain a part of the team in the office.
[Image ALT description: working from home risk assessment on laptop]
If you are worried about isolation issues affecting employee mental health through homeworking, look at our training course on Homeworker Awareness to understand the importance of reporting issues and hazards at home. Risk assessments are required by law, as an employer.