How to support employee wellbeing working from home

A 2019 report on the State of Remote Work by Buffer details that 49% of remote workers note that their biggest struggle is wellness-related. More specifically, 22% can’t unplug after work, 19% feel lonely and 8% can’t stay motivated. This highlights the importance of making sure your remote employees are happy and healthy!

In this blog, we’ll look at some ways you can support employee wellbeing while working from home as well as the legal requirements that you as an employer must follow.


Ways to support employee wellbeing while working from home

Safeguarding your employee’s mental health and emotional wellbeing doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task, and even a quick phone call can go a long way.

Keep in contact

These could be daily, every other day or weekly phone calls or even video calls. The idea is that you can continually assess workflow, set new tasks and check on your employee’s wellbeing. Working from home might be causing unforeseen issues for an employee, so it’s important to get feedback where you can. It also opens up the opportunity to discuss topics that aren’t work-related – catching up on plans for the weekend, asking after their family, discussing the news etc. You’d usually have these types of conversations in passing, over lunch or in brief meetings so it’s important to maintain this level of socialising where you can.

Promote a healthy work-life balance

While you may worry that some employees may take working from home as an opportunity to take it a little easier, in reality, many will feel pressure to work harder, or longer hours, in order to prove they aren’t.

As an employer, you need to balance keeping productivity up alongside encouraging people to keep taking breaks. When working from home it can be very easy to feel tempted to stay at your laptop throughout your lunch or extend the end of the day by a few hours.

Be sure to encourage staff to work their contracted hours and don’t stretch their working day into home life simply because they’re working from home. As with everything, balance is key.

Here’s how you can help your people achieve a good work-life balance.

Schedule regular team meetings

We live in a more connected world than ever, so when it comes to keeping the whole team connected, technology is truly on your side. Try to keep team meetings and catch-ups scheduled in your diaries but use online programmes like Skype or GoToMeeting as your way to connect.

This has a twofold effect: first, it remains the consistency of the normal working week, and that’s going to make keeping your business running easier than if regular meetings suddenly dropped out of the diary. Secondly, it helps to replicate the ‘buzz’ of the normal work environment, helping people connect and socialise.

Look at collaborative tools and platforms

There are plenty of tools that allow employees to interact with one another such as Asana, Zoom, Basecamp, Trello, and Flock to name a few. These are online collaboration tools so everyone can keep track of where tasks are up to and who they’re assigned to. Employees can often feel like they’re on an island so by having the ability to surround themselves with colleagues through these inherently social collaboration forums, can boost productivity and morale.

Provide mental health training and resources

It’s important that your employees know that you support them so by communicating this to them can really benefit their wellbeing. Our Employee Assistance Programme, created in collaboration with BUPA, gives employees unlimited access to phone support from qualified counsellors so they can discuss anything they need to.

Practical advice such as money management, landlord disputes, divorce and parenting is available. And there are also trained counsellors on hand to provide fully confidential advice on mental health and wellbeing, providing the perfect way to access help from qualified professionals while staying at home, based on the huge changes to our working lives that COVID-19 presents us all.


Remote working legal requirements for employers

Health and safety risk assessments

Employers have an obligation to carry out risk assessments on all permanent remote working environments. This should include assessments of remote workstations and equipment, as well as an assessment of potential occupational stress and mental health risks associated with specific remote work environments. This protects both employers and their remote employees.

While it’s often assumed that working remotely poses few risks to safety, it might shock you to know that individuals are more likely to have an accident in their own homes than anywhere else. For this reason, risk assessments for home workers are essential. They provide you with the opportunity to protect business legally, but also, more importantly, safeguard the wellbeing of their remote workers in the same way as they safeguard their regular workplace staff.

You should check with your remote employees that they feel that the following basic requirements are being met:

  • Their proposed remote location enables them to work in a safe and secure environment.
  • They have all the necessary equipment to properly and safely carry out their job.
  • Their co-workers and supervisors can be contacted easily, and that they do not feel isolated or left out.
  • They have a suitable workstation, including an appropriate chair and desk, and suitable lighting and electricity capabilities to work productively and safely, without causing personal injury.
  • Their remote workspace is free from hazards such as faulty, worn or old wiring, particularly when it comes to company-provided equipment.
  • Their remote workspace is free from clutter and other trip hazards that can cause personal injury.
  • They understand that they have allotted hours and should not be working excessively just because there is no clear start/end time for their working day.
  • They understand that they have the right to the same regular breaks away from their workstation that is permitted in the office.
  • They have fitted smoke, fire and carbon monoxide detectors in their workspace, and that fire evacuation plans have been discussed and understood.

Why not check out our free guide on an introduction to risk assessments?


Health and safety training

Aside from formal remote working risk assessments, relevant health and safety training sessions are also an essential, and legally necessary, aspect of ensuring a strong relationship is built between employers and their remote workers. Just as regular employees should receive frequent health and safety training from their employers, remote workers also have this right. This not only benefits remote employees, who become more capable of protecting themselves against any potential work-related risks, these sessions also ensure that employers are legally protected should an accident or injury occur. 

Typically completed alongside risk assessments, the purpose of this training should be to achieve the following:

  • To ensure that both the employer and employee understand their responsibilities when it comes to remote working practices.
  • To ensure both parties understand and recognise the potential risks associated with home working and how to prevent them. This includes good display screen equipment (DSE) practice, slips, trips and fall prevention, manual handling training, and fire hazard awareness training.
  • To ensure remote employees know how to correctly report an accident when working away from the office and how to make emergency calls.


Provision of equipment

While there’s no legal obligation on employers to provide equipment for remote workers, many businesses will typically provide basic IT equipment. Additional equipment, such as desks and chairs, may also be provided if a remote worker can prove that their health and safety is negatively impacted without them.


Inclusion and communication

In order to safeguard employee wellbeing while working from home, as well as to help ensure a business continues to operate as smoothly and efficiently as possible, employers should have diversity and illusion policies in place. These can help protect remote workers with issues such as disability, caring responsibilities, financial issues, challenging domestic situations and other personal circumstances. 

Having an open line with employees is crucial. Regular catch-up meetings between employees and managers, especially in the early days of a new work-from-home relationship, is the best approach to deal with any issues.

Want to learn more about EDI? Download our guide on improving equality, diversity and inclusion in the workplace.


Tips for performance management for remote workers

Supporting your employees’ mental health and wellbeing working from home can come in many forms, and our four tips can hopefully help you to support your team and manage performance of remote workers:

Immediately set expectations 

When people know what’s expected of them, they often perform better. With everyone working from home, this can be a much steeper learning curve, especially for new starters. So, you should set all schedule and work expectations straight away, and make sure they’re understood.

Keep communicating with regular check-ins

Checking in regularly keeps both you and your people updated on progress and expectations. Consider whether a beginning-of-the-week planning session gets the best results for the team or an end-of-the-week wrap-up. Remember to take notes following each meeting, so you can action anything you need, and nothing slips your mind.

Get specific with feedback

Give constructive, practical feedback privately, being as specific as possible. If you’re feeding back on written work, try screen sharing so you can refer to the original. Focus on how they can fix something. And remember… 20% of workers feel they now receive less recognition within the workplace due to the nature of remote working.

Let their voices be heard

Employees who feel their voices are heard are 6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. Engage your employee with questions: “What would you change if you could?” or “How can we find an effective way of working?”

Performance management for remote workers

Finding managing your homeworking teams' performance a challenge? Check out our HR experts' top tips for performance management of remote workers.

Download the guide

Support employee wellbeing while working from home with Citation

At Citation, we understand the importance of HR advice and support in achieving these goals. That’s why we’re on hand to support you every step of the way, through our HR, Employment Law, and Health & Safety Services. We have expert HR Consultants, Employment Law Consultants, and Health & Safety Consultants ready to help you maintain wellbeing while working from home.

Contact us today and discover the many ways that we can support you and your business today!

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