However, the logistical challenge of managing 10s, 100s, or even 1000s of dispersed home offices, instead of one or two core offices, is not without its complications - especially when it comes to getting people set up safely at home.
Health and safety (H&S) compliance can be very technical, and varies by jurisdiction. So whether your team is based in one country or multiple, you need to get to grips with local requirements to stay on the right side of the law.
In this article, Hofy offers their advice for ensuring your equipment provisioning process is compliant and designed to protect your remote teams globally.
Check local provisioning requirements
Remote workers’ rights differ across regions. So it’s essential that you understand how you’re supposed to provide or fund your employees’ work from home office set-up - especially if you’ve hired internationally.
In Russia, for instance, employers are required to provide remote workers with all the equipment and tools they need to get their work done. Remote employees actually have to get their employer’s consent to use their own equipment, and the employer has to compensate these employees for use of this equipment and any other costs they incur.
In Croatia, businesses have to compensate remote employees for all work from home expenses, including utilities, phone bills etc, as well as home office equipment.
Some countries, such as Italy, have introduced temporary measures that you also need to be aware of. Italy passed a support decree earlier this year in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The decree entitles home workers to €516.46 9 from their employer to put towards equipment for home working.
So tip #1: check that you’re abiding by local requirements for providing equipment.
Check equipment meets local H&S standards
The equipment your remote workers use may need to meet minimum adjustability or feature requirements. And these standards will vary by region.
For example, under EU regulations:
- office chairs must be height adjustable, and the backrest must be height and tilt adjustable;
- workers that want a footrest are entitled to one;
- keyboards must be tiltable, and so on.
That’s why, at Hofy, we only add equipment to our webstore that has been checked against H&S requirements.
Tip #2: brush up on specific equipment standards in regions where you employ remote workers. Or, outsource that responsibility to an organisation like Hofy.
Provide the ergonomic basics as standard
Broadly speaking, wherever your remote employees work, you have a duty of care to provide them with a safe working environment; just as you do with any office-based worker.
Ergonomic equipment is designed to allow people to work for hours at a time, free from harm. Musculoskeletal complaints are the second most common cause of short- and long-term absences in the UK, and led to UK workers taking 30.8 million sick days in 2016.
So, if your remote workers are without the ergonomic basics, you are arguably not providing them with the safe working environment you’re legally obliged to.
- A desk;
- An ergonomic chair;
- A laptop stand;
- An external keyboard;
- An external mouse.
For more advice, read our article on how to set up workstations properly.
Tip #3: Fill any basic equipment gaps, so you know every remote worker has a safe working environment.
Make sure your team members do not set up their own equipment
This is not only a bad experience for the remote worker (no one thinks building flatpack furniture is a fun time); it’s also risky from a health and safety perspective.
Assembling bulky office chairs and sit-stand desks is far from easy. And given that the majority of your remote workers (almost certainly) haven’t been trained to install office equipment, they could potentially injure themselves during, or even due to, the set up.
It’s also possible you’re legally required to install equipment for your employees, depending on where they work. In Mexico, for instance, employers are required to install equipment for home workers.
At Hofy, we make it incredibly easy to avoid this H&S risk. Click a button on our platform, and we’ll arrange for all the furniture your teams order to be professionally assembled.
Tip #4: Make sure all equipment is professionally assembled to avoid injury.
Issue home-specific workstation assessments
In the UK, EU and many other regions, employers are required to assess their employees’ workstations for any potential H&S risks - whether they’re home-based, office-based, or both. These assessments are called Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Assessments, and cover every aspect of an employee’s workstation and working environment (lighting, temperature etc.).
There are lots of assessments out there, ranging from approximately £10 for a basic checklist, to hundreds of pounds for a session with an ergonomist (someone who specialises in workplace safety and design).
The problem with many of the more basic assessments, though, is that they were designed when the majority of the world was office-based. They do not factor in the sort of equipment your teams may be using at home, or environmental factors that differ greatly in homes.
If you want an accurate picture of how your employees are working from home, seek out an assessment designed for home workers.
At Hofy, we offer a DSE self-assessment that’s designed for both home and office use to accommodate for remote, hybrid and office-first policies. There’s no limit on the number of assessments your teams can take, and it’s included free within your subscription.