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Working from home: getting it right

Hi Bare Bones, we are considering temporary working from home arrangements for our team in light of the coronavirus situation. Any specific procedures we should have in place to manage our risk?

Hey there, thanks for your question and it’s a timely one in the current uncertain environment around coronavirus. Many of our clients are considering a similar move.

While your first priority should be managing the health and safety risks associated working from home arrangements, I suggest you also consider ways you can maintain productivity from your team.  It’s not that complicated to put in place some structure to maximise employee output at the same time but let’s go with the safety and compliance factor first:

In Australia, the model work health and safety laws still apply to all businesses if workers are required to work somewhere other than their usual workplace…working from home, for example. In this situation employers must still ensure – so far as is reasonably practicable – the health and safety of their workers.

Before entering into a working from home (aka: “telecommuting”) arrangement, employers should consider a range of factors, including:

  • effective ways to communicate with the worker while on the arrangement
  • how to best manage workflows
  • use of equipment
  • workers’ compensation requirements
  • taking reasonable steps to ensure an employee’s work area at home meets workplace health and safety requirements
  • carrying out a safety assessment of the work area before the worker starts.

Key health and safety elements to consider include:

  • risks associated with slips, trips and falls
  • workstation ergonomics
  • manual tasks and electrical safety
  • psychosocial risks such as personal security and isolation
  • environmental hazards such as noise.

Safety assessment findings and the measures implemented to control any identified risks should be documented and agreed by all parties involved before the telecommuting arrangement commences.

Along with health and safety factors, employers should formally confirm with the employee the productivity expectations while working away from the office. While it may be unrealistic to expect each and every employee will operate at optimal capacity during this time, there are a number of simple procedures employers can put in place to ensure workers deliver output at least equivalent to that if the person was working from their usual office location.

Bare Bones Consulting is across all aspects of working from home arrangements. From a simple “Work Health and Safety Wellbeing” checklist (that puts the onus on the employee to confirm their home working environment is safe) to our full suite of four Working from Home documents to ensure a safe home work environment plus high employee productivity, we know what works and how to get it right first time. Check out our Performance Management page on the  Bare Bones website to find out a little more on our range of smart, simple and cost effective strategies to get the best out of your team…even in uncertain times like now.

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.