People are increasingly choosing to work from home or another place instead of going into the office for at least some of their normal tasks. A person can now work from home while being linked to the workplace over the phone, computer, and internet thanks to technology. Numerous names for this kind of arrangement exist, such as telework, telecommuting, remote work, or working from home.
What are some of the possible benefits and drawbacks? Advantages Disadvantages Person has less workplace interruptions and more flexibility in organizing daily duties (better personal time management) savings on time and transportation expenses greater satisfaction at work solitude a lack of separation between work and home, a better work-life balance, and more family distractions Possibility of working long hours a decreased awareness of company changes due to a concern over being poorly managed or ""out of sight, out of mind."" worry of being overly managed since they have to keep track of time spent outside of the office The business increased staff retention frequently more productive less hours lost due to traffic congestion energy, office space, maintenance, and housekeeping savings due to decreased absenteeism. improves the number of prospective employees and maintains business continuity in emergency situations difficulty keeping in touch and being open with the employee difficulty keeping in touch with customers or other employees properly potential delay in client service injury risk if home office is not properly set up less traffic congestion in the community reduced pollutant levels Greater options to accommodate employees with impairments are made possible by improved neighborhood security. potential decline in revenue for restaurants and shops in city centers
What problems can arise from a work-from-home or telework arrangement?
In a perfect world, the employer and employee would draft a written contract outlining their respective obligations. It should be noted that there might not be a formal agreement in place for employees who are required to work remotely or from home due to emergency situations like bad weather or public health warnings (such as those caused by an epidemic or pandemic). Your company can inform you of the choices available. The business continuity plan for the organization might also include this information. When deciding whether to allow employees to telework or work from home, employers and employees should take a few key factors into account from the perspective of health and safety. These factors consist of: Design and layout of workstations (ergonomics and home work environment) Who will provide what equipment (such as chairs, desks, computers, monitors, office supplies, etc.) and who will pay for utilities when working alone (e.g., hydro, water, home or cell phone, Internet, etc.) any effect that legislation governing workers' compensation and workplace safety may have
What ergonomic pointers are there for organizing a home office?
Where possible, a home office should adhere to the same health and safety standards as those in place in the workplace. For instance: Your workstation, chair, and other furnishings are comparable to (or of equal quality to) those in the workplace. For instance, the desk should be the proper height and strong enough to support any additional equipment you could set on it (e.g., computers, printers, scanners, etc.). Equipment like an ergonomic chair, a footrest, or technology that can help set up a safer work environment may be provided by your business or may be available for loan. Alternately, you can ingeniously repurpose everyday items to enhance the ergonomics of a temporary desk. The keyboard is at the proper height (with wrists in a neutral posture), and the mouse is placed close by on your workspace (reachable without arm or wrist strain). Because it is excessively high and prevents the wrists from being properly positioned in respect to the keyboard and mouse, the kitchen table is generally not a good work surface. To minimize reaching and twisting activities, the workspace has been cleaned and organized, and any potential slip-trip-fall dangers have been removed. The lighting is set up appropriately; the computer monitor should not reflect or glare, and the light levels should not strain the eyes. Noise levels can be controlled, either by isolating the work area or using noise-cancelling headphones or hearing protection. The workspace has proper ventilation and air quality. The temperature can be changed as needed and is comfortable. For more information on how to set up a workstation, please see the Ergonomics section of OSH Answers. When necessary, ask if your employer can assist with a home office ergonomic assessment, which may be available remotely through video.
What are some tips for work scheduling (work load) issues?
Duties, expectations, and deadlines should be clearly outlined and agreed upon by both the supervisor and the teleworker. Be careful not to """"over work"""". There are natural breaks in an office environment that will not occur when at home. Discussions with co-workers or a quick walk to the printer offer opportunities for a change in body position that may be missing in a home office. Extended hours in the same body position or repeated motions can lead to various musculoskeletal injuries.
Are there any safety or security issues to working at home?
A home office should offer the same level of safety and security as the employee would receive at the regular work office. When an employee is working at home, they may be working alone. While working alone in itself is not a risk, it can present a unique situation should something unexpected happen. It is important to keep to a contact schedule even if there are not """"work"""" details to discuss. For more information, please see the Working Alone document in OSH Answers.
What is an appropriate home office environment?
An appropriate work space at home may include: a space or room where it is easy to concentrate - preferably separate from other living areas and away from distractions level of security as required by the workplace telephone lines or cellular service (separate from family line if required) and answering machine or voice mail, if necessary cable, satellite, or other receiver for Internet connections, as necessary control over temperature, light and sound household members who will understand you are working and will not disturb you unnecessarily
What are some additional items for a home office safety checklist?
In addition to those tips mentioned above, the following should be considered. Fire Protection Is there a smoke alarm in the office? Is there clear access to a fire extinguisher? Is there a carbon monoxide detector in the home, especially near areas where people sleep? How many exits are available and where are they? Does telework space meet safety requirements of local building and fire codes? Emergency Procedures Has an evacuation plan been established? Are the first aid supplies adequate? Are emergency contact numbers posted near the telephone? Has a periodic contact schedule been established? Does your office contact know how to reach someone near you in the event of an emergency? Electrical Safety Are extension cords in good condition and positioned properly? Are cords and cables causing a tripping hazard? Are outlets grounded and not overloaded? Is there surge protection for electrical equipment? Is there sufficient ventilation for electrical equipment?
What are some tips for the employee who is working at home?
While you may not have to drive to get to work that day, it is still important to keep to a 'work day ritual'. Some tips for working at home include: Have a specific location where you work. This location may be a room, or just a corner of a room, but it is always the place where you do your work. Begin and finish at the same time every day you are working at home. Have a beginning and end of day ritual. Since there is no longer a 'break' between waking up and going to work, some people find it helpful to actually leave the house and walk around the block before starting work. You may want to end the day the same way. Schedule breaks during the workday to stretch and eat, as appropriate. As you would for working in the office, set a schedule and stick to it. Make a 'to do' list and check your accomplishments at the end of the day. Maintain contact with the office. Establish a routine for contact with your supervisor, or co-workers. Keep your supervisor informed of your progress and any difficulties encountered. This contact includes the need for overtime to complete projects. Attend meetings and gatherings virtually, or at the office if possible. This interaction helps keep you from becoming 'invisible'. Determine what interruptions are okay and what is not. Tell your friends and family what the ground rules are. Be honest with yourself. Teleworking is not a substitute for child or elder care, nor is it a way to simply save money on commuting costs. Too much compromise on the part of either the employee or employer can lead to problems and possible failure to meet the terms of the agreement.
What issues should be considered when offering a telework arrangement?
One of the most important health and safety questions that should be answered when working at home is who will be responsible for health and safety issues and worker's compensation if the employee is injured. To avoid complications, there should be a written agreement between the employer and the employee clarifying these matters. Where possible, aim to maintain appropriate health and safety standards at home. Health and safety issues include: Will the employer or the health and safety committee have access to the house for safety inspections? Or, will alternative arrangements be made such as the employee using checklists or submitting photos or the videos of the work area? What parts of the house will be considered the 'workplace'? Is the bathroom and/or kitchen included? That employee must immediately report any incident or injury to their supervisor (just as they would at the office). How will incidents be investigated? This policy could also outline: Who buys and maintains the equipment such as the desk, chair, computer and accessories (including software and updates), general office supplies, etc. If remote access to company's main computer systems are available outside of the office or not. If possible, how and what type of software or equipment is necessary. If information security is a concern, consult with your IT department and do not allow other household members to use your workstation or work equipment. What expenses will be reimbursed (dedicated telephone lines, Internet access, business telephone calls, office supplies)? What hours the employee will be available or how will the completion of accomplishments be determined? How will overtime be approved? When and how often the employee will check for messages? Will the primary contact method be by telephone, e-mail, or other methods? What number to call to reach employee at home. Is there an alternative number? Who will have access to home-office phone number? Listing of work assignments, due dates, work expectations, etc.
Do occupational health and safety laws in Canada cover teleworking arrangements?
Occupational health and safety or compensation laws related to teleworking or working remotely arrangements may be different in each jurisdiction. In many situations there is little or no formal guidance available. Having a policy or agreement between the employer and employees may be beneficial, and will assist the employer with their role of due diligence when duties are not specifically outlined in legislation. It is important to contact your local government department responsible for occupational health and safety to find out what laws apply to your situation. A list of phone numbers and addresses for these departments is available at Canadian Government Departments Responsible for OH&S. You may also want to check with your union, other labour or employment contracts, or your Health and Safety Committee or member as well as company policies.
What is an example of a checklist for teleworking agreements or policies?
The following issues or points can be used as a checklist for a teleworking agreement or policy: Is there a statement which outlines what types of jobs or tasks may be done at home, or will each application be handled on a case by case basis? Is there a statement that indicates that except where outlined in the policy that the employee's regular conditions of employment remain the same? Have arrangements been made for normal supervision of the employee to continue (including frequency of contact between employee and supervisor, ongoing feedback, performance appraisals and career development)? Has the exact location (full street address) and contact details for where that employee will be working from been recorded in case of an emergency? Does having a home office violate municipal zoning regulations? Is there a statement that the employee will follow all of the company health and safety policies when establishing and working in a home office area? Will business meetings be held at the employee's residence, a third location, or at the regular office? If meetings may be held in the home office, a statement that the employee will keep the home office area safe for themselves and others who may enter it may be necessary. Is there a policy detailing how communications between the employee, co-workers and customers will function? Is there an agreement about travel time and mileage allowance, if any, between the employee's home and the regular work location? What arrangements are needed if the employee is sent away from the home location on work business (but not to report to the office)? Is there agreement on how the workload will be assigned? How will overtime be approved? Is there a need for company (proprietary) information to be stored in a locked room, desk or file cabinet?
How do I evaluate the telework agreement?
The policy should clearly state what criteria will be used to evaluate the agreement. Evaluation may include the following items: meeting deadlines overall and/or employee productivityprogress of individual or team assignments availability to receive and return calls impacts on the employee at home as well as other staff in the office customer service delivery the ability to attend meetings, even on short notice In some cases, only changes to the telework arrangement may be necessary, while in others the arrangement may be ended. Keep all involved up-to-date if changes to the overall policy occur."""