One year on from the new legislation giving all UK employees the legal right to request flexible working, and the trend towards employees choosing to work away from the office, at a time that suits them, is on the increase.
However, research from financial protection specialist Unum has shown that only half of employers (53 percent ) have put methods in place to ensure the health of employees working remotely. Linda Levesque, HR Director at Unum, commented: “With flexible working rights now available to all, more and more employees are choosing to step away from the traditional 9-5. Not only does this mean that staff have the option to work in a way that suits them, research shows that businesses are benefiting from a more productive and creative workforce as a result.
“However, it’s important that employers account for this growing remote workforce when implementing wellbeing plans – whether that’s ensuring workstations at home are set up safely, or putting measures in place to encourage staff to switch off.” Unum has provided three practical tips for employers to consider when implementing a healthy working plan for remote workers:
Distribute posture guides – many companies already distribute guides for employees working in an office, showing them how to set up their office workstation in a way to reduce the risk of things like repetitive strain injury, back pain and neck problems. Adapt these for those who work remotely to remind staff of the importance of working safely from a suitable desk set-up, even if they’re not in the office.
Introduce time limits – one risk of remote working is that the lines can blur between work and home, meaning that switching off becomes harder and more employees feel under pressure to be available 24/7. One way of counteracting this is to introduce time limits on remote working systems (and ensuring employees know these well in advance), meaning staff will be forced to exit the system.
Encourage contact – ensure that employees who work remotely maintain contact with the rest of the team, to avoid them feeling isolated. If staff are unable to make it into the office for logistical reasons, set-up regular conference calls to ensure that all team members catch-up at least once a week.