With tens of thousands of workers now working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic, it is vitally important employers protect the mental health of their workers. For many, this may be the first time they have worked from home and they may well be also caring for school age children at the same time.
Duty of care
The HSE is very clear, employers have the same health and safety responsibility for home working employees as any other employees. This responsibility includes managing work related stress and protecting home workers mental health.
In such unprecedented times, it is possible that an employees tasks and responsibilities may change. Employers should be very clear what an employees key tasks are and any associated deadlines.
Routine & working hours
Employees should be encouraged to maintain a working routine i.e. starting and finishing work at similar times and taking regular breaks. Having said that, for those employees who are now also caring for children at home, realistic working hours and days should be discussed to avoid any misunderstanding.
Keep in touch
Face to face contact is key not only for effective working communication, but also for maintaining a level of ‘normal’ contact. Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams are all excellent programmes which allow for multi user video calls. For tasks which usually involve a high level of supervisory input, think about whether the work flow needs updating to ensure employees can still access their usual support and advice.
Both mental and physical boundaries are important in ensuring work does not completely take over an employees home life. Ideally, encourage employees to setup a designated work area. If this is not possible, they should pack away all work equipment at the end of the day. Keep a close eye on employees with school age children to ensure they are not catching up with work every evening and weekend.
We’re here to help
If you require any further advice about protecting your home workers mental health we’re more than happy to talk this through with you. If you would also like a copy of our Coronavirus Risk Assessment please do get in touch.