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Working from home temporarily - health, safety and wellbeing advice

This guidance is aimed at staff who are either fixed or flexible workers and are temporarily working from home during the existing COVID-19 outbreak. It is not intended as definitive guidance for designated home workers as this is a separate issue.


Working from home is a situation that doesn't require any significant additional equipment or structural alterations.

We don't expect staff who are working from home to take equipment such as chairs home to facilitate this. If you require specialist seating or other bulky equipment you would normally need in the office and you are not self-isolating then you should discuss this with your line manager so suitable arrangements can be put in place. This may include organising for this equipment to be delivered to your home or alternatively it may be possible to organise a COVID-19 secure base from which you can work.

Mental wellbeing

Working from home can provide more flexibility for you to balance work and home life, and raise levels of empowerment, autonomy and job satisfaction. However, it is widely recognised that having fewer opportunities for social interaction and support from colleagues can lead to feelings of isolation and have a negative effect on wellbeing. Remote working also makes you less visible, which makes it much harder for managers to recognise when their team members are having difficulties.

We have provided advice on maintaining your mental wellbeing and access to wellbeing support. You can also self-refer to our employee counselling service on 01629 536954.

Physical wellbeing

There should be no increased risk using display screen equipment (DSE) while working at home or in different locations if sensible precautions are taken.

We have guidance for maintaining  physical wellbeing when working remotely, at home or from other locations, including advice on maintaining posture and comfort, and ensuring a suitable working environment. The Health and Safety Executive also have a useful video to help you set up your home workstation.

It is recognised that you may not be working in ideal conditions while temporarily working from home and that you may feel under pressure to be at your computer for extended periods so that you are seen to be available and working. This can have an effect on your physical wellbeing and you are encouraged to take regular short breaks away from the screen to avoid spending prolonged periods where posture may not be ideal.

Sickness

Please remember that just because you are working from home you shouldn't be working if you are ill. Working when ill can prolong recovery time and adversely affect your wellbeing.

If you are sick you should not attempt to work and should record sickness in the usual way. 

Working safely with equipment

Check your equipment before use for any visible faults (report any faults immediately to your line manager). If you spot any faults do not use the equipment until it has been checked out (for example, by ICT services).

All electrical equipment should be checked daily before it is plugged in. 

Appliance leads and appliances - visual inspection

Portable electrical equipment such as laptops, heaters, printers, scanners etc. are connected to a socket outlet by means of a flexible cable.  This cable should be visually inspected for signs of wear, damage, taped joints and fraying.  This inspection should be carried out with the portable equipment unplugged from the socket. The plug top should also be inspected for signs of damage such as cracks, bent pins and signs of overheating.

Appliance and plug casings should be checked before each use for signs of damage.  If damage is found then the faults procedure should be followed. The lead should be secure where it enters the plug and only the outer insulation of the flex should be visible. No internal insulation or cables should be visible.

Ensure that all appliance and socket switches are in the off position before appliances are plugged in or unplugged.

To protect laptops from overheating the laptop vents should not be obstructed.  Keeping the vents unobstructed will allow the internal fan to pull cool air in and expel hot air keeping it in good working order.

When you have finished working for the day, ensure your equipment is located safely and securely or packed away to prevent damage and unauthorised access.

Insurance

You should contact your insurer if you are unsure if your policy covers you for homeworking. All insurers have different views about this, however, many have added homeworking automatically to their policies.