Clearly, the focus of H&S attention at this time is on protecting and supporting workers on the challenges brought about by Covid-19.
For many employees the current situation means extended periods of home working.
Below are some key pieces of advice for employers and staff to help recognise and tackle some of the main H&S challenges that can result from this.
Managing stress whilst WFH at this time is really important. There are likely many staff now homeworking who have little or no experience with this set-up. This can lead to issues of isolation, lack of structure, and distraction for staff – all of which can impact negatively on workers’ mental wellbeing.
To combat this, managers are encouraged to schedule regular catch-up meetings with staff – often a quick daily conference call is effective. As well as providing a structured touch point to set work agendas, it gives those who may be feeling isolated a sense of connection to their colleagues. Try to spend some time in these meetings to discuss non-work issues if possible.
For those struggling with distraction at home, it is recommended where possible to try and find a consistent area away from others that they can work each day. Treat this area as your work space and try to separate it from where you spend non-work time. This creates a better distinction be work and leisure, which is beneficial for reducing stress and improving work life balance.
Similarly to the above, endeavour to stick to a work-day schedule. It is tempting with a home working set-up to begin frequently checking e-mails and working outside of normal work hours. However this can lead to an unstructured working pattern that means it is very difficult to ‘switch-off’ and decompress. By sticking to a work pattern that broadly resembles a typical in-office routine, staff are better able to regulate their work-life balance.
Finally, set-up your home work station effectively. As it is likely that the current situation may continue for a number of weeks, it is important to correctly structure your home working arrangement.
The HSE has useful resources covering the key bases in this area and is definitely worth reviewing for home working employees – see this link.