Working from Home Employee Risks Must be Well-managed

Working from home and UK lockdown are two of the situations coming out of the Covid-19 crisis that have the potential to create impacts on the mental health of both those with existing related issues and others experiencing such strains for the first time.

This has already been highlighted as a possibility and it is one that the ‘Britain Get Talking’ campaign[1] is seeking to address during these “unprecedented” times.

Financial pressures on employers, the need to choose how to best manage staff and possible furloughing, are just some of the day-to-day tasks facing those running businesses of all sizes.  Added to this is the requirement for managers and owners to consider the mental health impacts on those who have become lone workers, or who are working from home amidst possible family pressures.

Those who have become lone workers could face physical, as well as mental risks to their health, particularly if they are keyholders to premises containing valuable stock or cash, or have unbanked money in their possession. Making sure employees in this position have clear instructions on self-protection is important.

Typically, however, what is particularly required in the lockdown situation is strong communication with isolated workers and the embracing of technological ways in which to stay in touch.

Safeguarding employees from undue stress at work is just one part of an employer’s duty, and one that should be addressed through the risk assessment required of many businesses.  A downloadable, ‘Tackling Stress Workbook’ resource, is available at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website and suggests six aspects of work design which should be optimised in order to prevent undue employee stress.[2]

Social distancing is likely to have increased the stresses and strains within each of the six areas, which are Demands, Control, Support, Relationships, Role and Change. Employees may face very different demands under lockdown and may have less control than usual over how they work.  Additional support is likely to be required, along with extra motivation and support and reassurances about their relationships with co-workers and managers.

Amidst the turmoil, roles may be less defined and any changes may need to be communicated with extra clarity, so that mental health impacts can be minimised and controlled.

The upheaval within the business world that has been caused by Covid-19 is tricky to handle in many aspects of risk management, but you need not be alone as you try to tackle this area.  If you find yourself in need of help, please get in touch.

[1] https://youngminds.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-with-us/britain-get-talking/
[2] https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/index.htm