5 ways to support your employees working from home

Here’s something you already know: remote working has become all the range lately. You’re probably one of many small business owners whose workforce has been scattered here, there and everywhere.

So, how are they getting on?

As an employer, you have a responsibility for employee wellbeing regardless of where they are working. And any right-thinking boss will want to ensure their team is happy, healthy and productive on the job.

This guide will highlight ways of supporting your employees to maintain a healthy and productive work life.


1.   Set mandatory working hours

While it may seem obvious, ensuring your team sticks to a regular schedule is one of the most significant ways of helping them maintain a healthy work life from home.

Working within conventional business hours is a good way to encourage a healthy daily routine and make sure that employees keep their work contained to an allotted time period.

If employees have flexible working hours, they can easily fall into the habit of working late, which can negatively impact on sleep and general leisure time. Keeping a reasonable sleep pattern and work-day routine will likely increase their productivity and enthusiasm, while also alleviating stress.

Your mission: Set mandatory working hours to help your employees achieve a productive and healthy work-life balance. Consider incorporating some form of clocking-in system to encourage your employees to work within their assigned hours.

Sometimes you have to be strict to be kind!


2.   Encourage regular movement breaks

It’s important to take regular breaks with any job, but for office work even more so. Routinely sitting in the same position for hours on end can lead to back and neck problems or other, more serious, medical issues such as deep vein thrombosis. In addition, the blue light that is emitted by most conventional monitors can potentially damage your eyes over time.

But many of these problems can be avoided with a few small tweaks. For example, if your people take short breaks to stretch their muscles and rest their eyes at least once an hour, it will improve their energy levels and overall health and wellbeing.

Your mission: Communicate to your employees the importance of regular ‘movement’ breaks. Suggest different activities they can do for 5 minutes at the end of every hour and encourage staff to share their own methods for keeping healthy.

Finally, suggest they use timers or productivity apps which can help remind them to get moving and look away from the screen!


3.  Suggest a designated work area

When you are working at home, especially from a laptop, it can be tempting to work from the couch, the bed or some other leisurely position. Though you might find it more comfortable at first, working without an appropriate chair and desk may eventually cause physical harm as mentioned previously.

Establishing a space which is confined to work can help filter out the various distractions in and around your home. Even if it is just a separate desk in your bedroom, having a space that is used exclusively for work will help with the mental separation of work and home life.

For these reasons, it’s imperative to encourage your employees to set up a suitable workspace in their home and to provide them with all of the various equipment or materials that they will need to do their job.

While it may only seem like a minor step, having a designated workspace – with all the right equipment – will undoubtedly have a positive impact on their general health and wellbeing.

Your mission: Arrange a meeting with your team to discuss workspace arrangements. Where are they working? Is it comfortable? Is there any equipment they are lacking? These conversations will highlight issues that need addressing. It may be as simple as offering advice or providing them with a piece of equipment, such as a laptop stand.


4.   Help your team separate work life from home life

When working from home, the lines between work life and personal life can sometimes blur. It’s important to separate these aspects of your life, but it can be difficult to achieve when both exist in the same physical space.

There are many different steps that can be taken to help your employees compartmentalize these aspects of their lives, such as establishing a designated workspace and setting mandatory hours.

It can also be tricky for some people to make the transition from the end of the workday to the start of leisure time. There are some simple ideas that can help with this:

  • Meditation: perform some simple breathing exercises to gradually quieten the mind. Even just five minutes can help.
  • Get outside: once the workday is done, go for a stroll and get some fresh air.
  • Exercise: do some physical exercise whether it’s stretching or strengthening exercises or something more aerobic (running, cycling, aerobics) – it can rejuvenate the body and help cast aside the stresses of the day.

One of the most helpful steps is to enforce a mandatory clock out time for your employees. This will help them to avoid working unreasonable or unhealthy hours and ensure that they have some personal time each day.

Your mission:  Ask your team how they are managing the boundaries between work life and home life? Is it causing any problems? Provide them with tips and welcome their own ideas into the mix.


5.    Promote comfortable working

Nope, not lying back on the sofa with feet on a table. Rather, a workspace which allows for comfortable working over long periods.

What we’re really talking about is ergonomics which is the science of achieving a healthy workspace set up. That means computer screen set at the right level, a chair which encourages good posture, effective lighting and much more besides.

Simply put, if employees are not comfortable, they aren’t likely to be very productive and may eventually end up developing health complications.

Chair and screen position

Do your employees have good posture when sitting at their desk? Is the chair and monitor positioned in a way that reduces the possibility of work-related upper limb disorders or back problems?

There are plenty of diagrams that can be found online which illustrate how to set up your chair and desk in the optimum positions and angles, as well as how to adjust your posture.

For health and safety reasons, anyone who is working from home should be required to carry out these checks, but it is important to remind your employees to refer to these diagrams every now and then to make sure they are set up correctly.

Ergonomic peripherals

Using a laptop or other peripheral office equipment, such as a keyboard and mouse, for extended periods can potentially lead to discomfort, pain, and ultimately debilitating health problems. However, using ergonomic equipment can reduce the strain on the wrists and hands – and ultimately help avoid any longer term health problems.

Many different types of ergonomic equipment are widely available to purchase, at varying prices and levels of quality. This equipment includes keyboards and mouses that are more naturally shaped to your hands, specially designed chairs for people with back problems and even glasses to filter out the harmful blue light that is emitted by most monitors. There are also blue light blocking apps which can be downloaded for desktop computer or phone.


Home  office surroundings

Given how much time your employees spend in this environment, it is important to make sure that their workspace is well lit, with plenty of space to move around when they need to and also that the room is at a comfortable temperature and is well ventilated

Every worker will have their own specific needs and preferences, so it’s important that you encourage your workers to take whatever actions they feel are necessary to be able to work comfortably.

Your mission: Check that you team is working ergonomically. How’s their posture? Is their screen set at eye level? Is the lighting good enough? It’s time to talk ergonomics!


The future is flexi work

While it’s uncertain how the pandemic will unfold and continue to impact on working arrangements, a new trend for flexi working will likely emerge across many industries. So, business owners will need to adapt to these radical changes by ensuring that employees have an optimal working environment wherever they work from.

Hooray Health & Protection helps UK small business owners better understand the health insurance and employee benefits marketplace. No waffle, no jargon, just straightforward advice.

If you need one-to-one advice, get in touch with our team of friendly advisors and we’ll help dispel the confusion.