As part of our focus on flexible working pitfalls, this week we’ll look at arguably the most important pitfall of all – health and wellbeing at work. For more information on this important subject, check out our Ambitions Travel Training ‘Managing Home Workers’ and ‘Successful Working From Home For Travel Employees’ courses, designed to get you and your team members working from home happily, effectively and safely.
Ignoring homeworker health and well-being can have devastating, long-term consequences, as Ambition Travel Recruitment Owner and Founder Fi discovered first-hand.
Here Fi tells her story.
“Hindsight is a great thing, isn’t it?
How often have you wished you could go back in time and do things differently to achieve a more positive outcome?
At times, we’re our own worst enemies. Cutting corners, skipping out steps in a process, rushing or not listening to advice from others leads to poor results, accidents, or, in my case, degenerative disc disease.
I was given the tools, advice, encouragement, and nagging to improve my work-life balance and workstation, and I ignored them all, chasing success and money.
Working from home gave me so many benefits, yet I didn’t take advantage of them. Instead, I found that time previously spent on my morning and evening commutes listening to the radio, catching up with family and friends on the phone, reading a book, thinking about the day ahead etc., were swapped with me hitting my desk early and staying there until late (usually working 7.30 – 18.30). Grabbing a snack or visiting the toilet were the only reasons I left my desk. Gone were the lunch breaks where I could get some fresh air, buy something for dinner, treat myself on payday to a new outfit or meet a friend.
As the achievements, bonuses and recommendations rolled in, little did I know that I was developing degenerative disc disease, which would lead to immense pain, and the first of what will most likely be three ACDF (anterior cervical disc fusion) operations to replace the worn discs in my neck with an ever-growing titanium cage and a lifetime ahead of good and bad days of pain in my neck, shoulders, arms and hands.”
Homeworker health and well-being should be regarded as much more than a box-ticking exercise. As Fi’s experience demonstrates, ignoring this can lead to devastating and life-changing consequences.
Most workplaces will conduct an office-based workstation assessment when a new employee starts. Employees working from home are often excluded from this level of care. Working on a laptop from sofas, beds, or even a kitchen table can lead to long-term health problems, and that’s before accounting for the effects that lack of regular breaks, exercise, and socialising can have on mental health.
Post-pandemic, employers now have the same health and safety responsibilities whether employees work from home or in the workplace. According to the government’s Health and Safety Assessment, employers should be taking a holistic approach and looking at three main areas:
Homeworkers will face the same mental health and stress issues as any other worker, possibly further exacerbated by social exclusion. Employees who are deprived of social contact through work can feel isolated or disconnected.
To help mitigate stress and mental health issues with homeworkers, employers can:
Employees should be protected from the health and safety risks associated with working on a computer or laptop (display screen equipment or DSE) at home. As part of your DSE assessment, you should:
Working environment and accidents
As an employer, you must take reasonable steps to ensure your workers have a safe place to work when at home.
Employers should be having conversations with their employees about their arrangements. You might find that some employees do not have an appropriate place to work and may prefer to come into the workplace more often for their well-being, mental health or a variety of other reasons.
We’ve collaborated with Online Travel Training in hosting our essential soft skills (not destination and product) eLearning courses. If you would like to learn more about taking care of your remote employees and fostering a safe and positive remote working environment, take a look at our Ambitions Travel Training course for remote managers – ‘Managing Home Workers’. We also have our ‘Successful Working From Home For Travel Employees’ course designed to help your employees work from home happily and effectively.
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