Are Hybrid Work Models Still Working? │ Health and Safety

Are Hybrid Work Models Still Working? │ Health and Safety

In this month’s Health and Safety update, our H&S Consultant, Colin Jones asked if your remote or hybrid model is still working, and discussed the key health and safety issues that may occur.

Changing Work Models

It is clear from the past 20 months or so. A great number of organisations have been forced to adopt new ways of working and it is also fair to say the people aspect has been a turbulent one with the hokey-cokey of lockdowns and ever-changing restrictions.

Many organisations have adopted a hybrid model so employees can divide between home and office on designated days. Some organisations have made the strategic decision to have those who can, work permanently from home, this has been a major change in how businesses now operate.

Some organisations have been happy to adopt this new way of operating but have been unaware that their responsibilities for those working from home, still need to have their health, safety and welfare considered and practical measures put in place to ensure this. Whether that is providing equipment to carry out their work, scheduling meetings, working out work rotas for hybrid working. It is clear and evidence is emerging that managing stress, or mental health issues for home workers is lacking and much is still needed to be done.

As this mode of working is becoming the normality, there appears to be a growing concern regarding employees mental health with working remotely or in isolation for prolonged periods, working extra hours through the day which impacts on family life.

A recent survey conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) illustrates those growing concerns.

The survey revealed that:

  • Overall, more people felt working from home was better for their health and wellbeing (45%), compared to around one third (29%) who thought working from home was worse for their health and wellbeing
  • However, people who switched to working from home as a result of Covid-19 had experienced health and wellbeing impacts, with the most common being feeling less connected to colleagues (67%), taking less exercise (46%), developing musculoskeletal problems (39%) and disturbed sleep (37%)
  • Over one in four (26%) are working from home from either a sofa or a bedroom
  • Nearly half (48%) of people who work from a sofa or bedroom said they had developed musculoskeletal problems and nearly two thirds (59%) said they felt more isolated from their colleagues
  • Women were more likely than men to feel isolated (58% of women V 39% of men) and develop musculoskeletal problems (44% of women V 29% of men) as a result of working from home
  • Home working is having an impact on people’s mental health, with 67% saying they felt less connected to their colleagues and 56% saying they found it harder to switch off. However only a third of respondents had been offered support with their mental health (34%) from their employer.
  • People who live with multiple housemates were more likely to think that working from home was worse for their health and wellbeing (41%), compared to people who live on their own (29%) or with just their partner (24%)

The findings of the survey also showed that the vast majority of people didn’t want to go back to working in an office full time, with nearly three-quarters of people (74%) saying that they wanted to split their time between home working and working in an office.

Clearly more needs to be done by employers to ensure the health and wellbeing issues which are affecting home workers and the issue that some groups of people are impacted more severely than others means employers need to engage more with individual employees to ensure their needs are being met.

The Message to Employers

The message for all employers is one of……..do not be complacent. Assumptions and second guesses are not going to work. Ensure you are continuing to assess the impacts of health, safety and wellbeing of your employees more than ever before.

Can you be as confident that you know exactly how people are working? Is there underlining issues regarding mental health being overlooked? Have you, at the very least got your staff to carry out a self-assessment of their designated work area at home, has a DSE Assessment been carried out? Is it necessary to put measures in place to ensure that their working day is not extended so much that it impacts their family life and have you provided them with everything they need to be able to work efficiently and safely as is practicably possible?

Recent statistics (pre-Covid-19) showed 51% of work-related illnesses could be attributed to stress, depression and anxiety.

28% can be attributed to musculoskeletal disorders.

It will be interesting to see how 2021/22 statistics stack up regarding these issues.

If you require assistance with anything that has been discussed in this article, the expert Health and Safety consultants at HPC are able to assist you. From offering advice and guidance to ensure you remain compliant whilst implementing a remote or hybrid working model to assisting with the completion of DSE assessments.

Get in contact and take the time to check that what you think is working, actually is!

You never know the real value of expert Health & Safety advice until you face problems in the workplace through injury or claims, we are here to help you avoid and protect your business from this risk. 

T: 0844 800 5932

E: contact@highperformanceconsultancy.com

Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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